Campaign finance reform won’t restore confidence in democracy, political scientists say: NewsCenter

Campaign finance reform won't restore confidence in democracy, political scientists say: NewsCenter

March 3, 2021

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Listening to science is paramount in policymaking, says David Primo, Professor Ani and Mark Gabrellian and professor of political science and business administration at the University of Rochester in an op-ed for Roll Call, which coincides with congressional support for HR 1, the People’s Law of 2021.

The bill contains elements of campaign finance reform, including stricter disclosure requirements, and a call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Yet the bill is “riddled with claims that do not hold water when subjected to scientific scrutiny,” Primo argues.

In collaboration with Jeffrey Milyo, professor of economics and director of the economics department at the University of Missouri, with whom Primo co-authored the recent book, Campaign Finance and American Democracy: What the Public Really Thinks and Why it Matters (University of Chicago Press, 2020), researchers challenge the underlying premise that legislation “fortifies our democracy” against the “torrent of money flowing into our political system”, thereby protecting “the integrity of democracy” .

Instead, they indicate their own review of data on attitudes towards money in politics. Their 2020 study showed, they write in the editorial, “forty years of experimenting with campaign finance reform and virtually no evidence that it is actually improving …

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