Center for Competitive Politics Releases Public Perception & the “Appearance of Corruption” in Campaign Finance Report

Contact: Sarah Lee, Communications Director

The Center for Competitive Politics


ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The American people believe political contributions should be disclosed, but don’t actually use the information themselves; they dislike seeing tax dollars used to fund campaigns; and they think that the current $2,500 federal limit on individual campaign contributions could be quadrupled without increasing government corruption.

These were among the findings of a poll of over 55,000 Americans surveyed as part of the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, and reviewed in Public Perception & the “Appearance of Corruption” in Campaign Finance, released today by the Center for Competitive Politics.

“We found when asked what individual contribution limit reached a level they considered corrupting, the most frequent response was $10,000,” said Jason Farrell, a researcher at CCP.  “This value is four times larger than what current federal law allows.  The limit is out of step with what Americans view as corrupting.”

In addition to contribution limits, the survey asked respondents about their views on disclosure regulation.

“People tended to be tolerant or approving of disclosure laws in roughly the same proportion whether they donated to political campaigns or not,” said Farrell.  “But what was particularly interesting was that it seems that while the general public appreciates the idea of disclosure as a deterrent to corrupt activity, they tend not to use it themselves when making personal political choices.”

The poll also revealed a trend Americans are generally opposed to taxpayer-funded “clean elections” programs, such as those that exist in several states.  These findings are in direct conflict with statewide polls commissioned by some pro-regulation advocacy groups.

“People are tolerant of some disclosure, dislike the idea of tax-funded campaigns, and don’t think that a $2,500 individual contribution limit will impact the appearance of corruption,” said Farrell.  “We hope Congress and state legislators will keep these results in mind the next time self-appointed reformers demand lower contribution limits, more intrusive disclosure laws, and government financed campaigns.”