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Authors

Dru Swaim

Abstract

Since the Citizens United decision in 2010 reduced Congress’s ability to constitutionally regulate money in elections, proponents of campaign finance reform have looked for alternative ways to achieve the goals of greater transparency and reduce the amount of money spent in federal elections. In the three years since Citizens United, the amount of money spent in federal campaigns has increased exponentially. In fact, the total amount of money spent in federal elections has nearly doubled since 2000. Citizens United represents a serious blow to the traditional methods used to restrict the amount of money in politics: limitations on the amounts campaigns can accept and spend. Moreover, despite the difficulties facing federal reform laws, public distrust of Congress continues to grow, demonstrating the need to take steps to help restore faith in the political process. The federal government should look to state governments to find new ways to regulate campaign finance. Specifically, the federal government should adopt a specific temporal limitation on when incumbent members of Congress can accept campaign contributions. Part II of this Comment provides a brief background of the law underpinning all campaign finance restrictions, and examines the structure of state session freeze statutes and the outcomes of challenges to these statutes. Part III suggests a specific proposal for a federal version of a session freeze. Part IV addresses critiques of the proposal and examines the issues it would face if challenged in court, but still argues that the proposal would be constitutional and effective in addressing campaign finance reform. Part V concludes.