Curbing Campaign Cash


The next Liberty Law Talk is a conversation with Paula Baker about her new book, Curbing Campaign Cash. You might recall former FEC Commissioner Brad Smith’s review of the book in this space. Smith observed that Baker’s book uncovers for the reader the perennial tale of campaign finance legislation and its many untoward consequences that distort a system of fully competitive elections. “Before Super PACs, McCain-Feingold, “soft money,” and the Keating 5; before Watergate, and even before Teapot Dome, there was the Michigan Senate race of 1918. . . . one of the nation’s most contested elections and earliest campaign finance “scandals.””  As Smith also notes, “Unlike the typical political saga, however, Baker presents the story not as a morality tale of honest government corrupted by big money, but rather as a cautionary story about big government regulation of honest money and the political choices of the electorate.” I hope you enjoy this conversation about one of the first attempts by campaign finance rules and the self-interested incumbents who enforce them to restrict basic constitutional freedoms in the name of equalizing politics.


Paula Baker

Paula Baker is an associate professor of history at Ohio State University. She is the editor of a collection of essays on campaign finance, co-editor of Recent Problems in American History Since 1945, and is completing a history of campaign finance laws in the United States.

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