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«COURSE OVERVIEW Money in politics is one of the most consistently controversial and compelling topics in American elections. Fundamental issues of ...»

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GOVT 496 001 and 696 004

Campaign Finance in American Elections and Public Policy

Fall 2011

American University

School of Public Affairs

Department of Government

Class meetings: Thursdays, 8:10-10:40 p.m. Professor: R. Sam Garrett, Ph.D.

Location: Ward 6 Phone: (202) 577-3158 (cell)

E-mail: samg@american.edu

Office Hours:

Before class: Ward 109 (CCPS)

And by appointment


Money in politics is one of the most consistently controversial and compelling topics in American elections. Fundamental issues of free speech, government regulation and public participation in the democratic process are all central to campaign finance policy and law. This rigorous upper-level undergraduate and graduate course explores campaign finance in federal elections and public policy. We will examine how American campaign finance policy has evolved, the intersection of policy and law, and consider how money and politics is important in campaigns and governing.

Students should be prepared for an in-depth and fast-moving course. Few other areas of American politics and law have evolved as substantially as campaign finance in recent years.

Understanding the practical and legal changes in the field is paramount for being an informed student and responsible practitioner. Although this dynamic will be challenging, the course will provide a unique opportunity to learn from each other as we consider an area that is politically, practically and academically essential to the democratic process.


I encourage students to see me during office hours to discuss the class or just to introduce themselves. If the scheduled times are not convenient for you, please contact me. Please note that office hours are for routine questions and comments—not for reconstructing entire classes, assignments or readings.

If you are not on the BlackBoard e-mail list, please contact the Help Desk (helpdesk@american.edu) and ask to be added to the course. BlackBoard will be my primary method for contacting students.

GOVT 496/696 Garrett, p. 2 Fall 2011


We will plan to proceed as indicated below but might need to make changes based on current events, speaker availability, etc. Students will have adequate notice of any changes in assignments or readings.


By registering for this course, you have agreed that you are aware of, and understand, your rights and responsibilities under the University’s Academic Integrity Code. You have likewise agreed to adhere to that code. This includes, but is not limited to, conduct regarding honesty in assignments and with respect to plagiarism. Per University policy, any case of suspected violation will be reported immediately to the Office of the Dean.


Use of laptops and other electronic devices is prohibited during exams. Laptop use in class is discouraged. If you must use a laptop, I reserve the right to conduct spot checks to see that students are actually taking notes. Any other use of laptops or other electronic devices in class is prohibited. Cell phones or other communication devices must be turned off and put away before class begins. Students who cannot adhere to these policies will be asked to leave.

GRADING Students may earn a total of 100 percentage points for this course. To ensure fairness to the entire class, grades will be determined strictly by the number of percentage points a student accumulates. Grades will be rounded to the nearest percentage. The point/grade breakdown appears below.

A: 94-100. B+: 87-89. B-: 80-83. C: 74-76.

A-: 90-93. B: 84-86. C+: 77-79. C-: 70-73.

D+: 67-69. D: 64-66. D-: 60-63. F: 59 and below.

Grades in the “A” range are reserved for excellent work in all respects, including superior command of the material in assignments, exams and participation. Grades in the “B” range represent very good work in all respects. Grades in the “C” range represent average and satisfactory work. Grades in the “D” range represent serious deficiencies in one or more major aspects of the course. Grades in the “F” range represent a fundamental failure to complete the course requirements, including demonstrating an understanding of the material.

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Exams Midterm and final exams will be given in class as indicated below. The midterm exam will cover all material to date. Although an understanding of the entire course will be required for the final, that exam will focus on material presented after the midterm. Exams will require a detailed understanding of course materials—especially readings—critical thinking that presents your own analysis of the course material and good writing. Grammar, spelling and writing quality are important. Exams will include essays and short-answer questions. More information about exams will be provided in class.

Research paper All students will write a research paper of approximately 15 pages (double-spaced, excluding appendices or references). Papers may address any aspect of American campaign finance you choose. Papers may not be submitted (or have been submitted) for another class without the consent of both professors. Papers must rely primarily on scholarly sources (books or journal articles). Encyclopedias or general online sources are not acceptable. Media coverage such as newspaper articles may be used, but all papers should be clearly grounded in scholarly literature.

Students are encouraged to take advantage of Washington’s resources by conducting interviews or analyzing party documents. However, this is not required. All papers should be cited using consistent in-text or footnote citations (e.g., MLA, APA or APSA styles). Be sure to provide complete citations, including page numbers for exact quotations and publication year. Papers will be discussed in more detail in class.

Research paper proposal All students will submit a one-page (double-spaced) paper proposal as noted in the syllabus.

Proposals should include: 1. a clear research question, 2. at least five potential scholarly sources beyond the course reading (you need not use all these sources in the final paper), 3. a discussion of potential research difficulties and possibilities for overcoming those difficulties. Proposals will not be graded, but late proposals will result in a one-percentage-point-per-day deduction in the final paper grade. Proposals submitted more than one week late will result in an automatic 1/2 letter-grade deduction in the final paper grade. I reserve the right to reject paper proposals if a topic is inappropriate or impractical, although most difficulties can be resolved by working together well before the due date.

News Discussion Each week, students will lead brief, informal discussions based on a news article, broadcast, editorial, etc. related to the syllabus readings. The purpose of this assignment is to allow students to consider how the course readings relate to current political events. You may choose any piece that you feel relates to that week’s topic; please contact me with any questions.

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few sentences or a short paragraph) posing at least two discussion questions or discussion topics that you feel may be particularly relevant.

We will have two or three presentations per week after. I am willing to consider proposals for a longer group presentation if students prefer to work together. Students will sign up for presentation dates early in the semester. Each student must make one presentation.

Participation This class is conducted as a seminar and will require active participation. Throughout the semester, I will take note of the quality and quantity of students’ participation. Participation grades will be awarded on a three-point scale (excellent, satisfactory and poor). Although how you choose to participate is up to you, be sure that you are doing so somehow. If you are shy about speaking up in class, please contact me early in the semester about alternative ways to demonstrate your attention to the course. Students will not be graded on attendance. All students who want to learn and be engaged are welcome and encouraged to come to class.

Additional requirements for graduate students Students receiving graduate credit for the course should comply with the requirements noted above, but the paper should be approximately 20 pages. Graduate students will also be expected to rely on a wider variety of scholarly literature and to generally exhibit a deeper and more complex understanding of the course material than their undergraduate classmates. Exams for graduate students will also include different or additional questions compared with undergraduate exams. If graduate students wish to propose alternate ways to complete course requirements that benefit your academic or professional needs, please contact me early in the semester. Any alternative arrangements are subject to advance approval.

DUE DATES All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the dates indicated in the syllabus.

Students who fail to submit assignments on the specified date will be penalized 1/3 letter grade per day late, including weekends (e.g., from B+ to B for one day). Assignments not turned in 10 days (including weekends) after due date receive an automatic “0” and are ineligible for grading.

Extensions and incompletes will not be granted except in cases of genuine and documented medical emergencies. Collaborative (group) work is not permitted for any assignments in this course, unless otherwise noted.

I will reschedule exams or extend assignment deadlines for students who provide written, specific documentation (from a medical professional, university administrator or minister) of medical emergencies or religious observances that preclude you from completing work as scheduled. Advance notice must be provided unless the circumstance is a last-minute emergency. I reserve the right to ask for clarification if necessary. In such cases, exams and assignments must be completed within 72 hours of the original date. Students who miss exams without receiving extensions in advance and as outlined above will receive a grade of “0” for that exam. Please note that documentation does not excuse you from completing exams or assignments in a timely manner, or from keeping me informed about your situation.

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Unfortunately, every semester, students experience unexpected emergencies. If such a situation arises, please contact your academic advisor immediately. Your advisor can help you understand your options, alert faculty, etc. The “Due Dates” section above also applies to emergency situations.


I am happy to answer questions about how students earned particular grades. I do not and will not, however, negotiate with students about grades. If you believe I have made a specific factual error in grading, I will review the item and change it if the mistake is mine. If you feel that an overall assignment or exam grade is unwarranted, upon request within one week of returning the assignment or exam in class, I will re-grade the assignment or exam one time. In such cases, the entire assignment or exam will be re-graded; the grade may increase or decrease.

DISCLAIMER In addition to my part-time affiliation with American University, I am a full-time employee at the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Any views expressed in my capacity as a professor for this class are my own and do not necessarily represent the Congressional Research Service or Library of Congress.

READINGS The assigned readings are essential for successful completion of the course. Students should integrate the readings, and their own interpretation of those readings, into exams and assignments.

The following books are required:

1. Corrado, Anthony et al. 2005. The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook. Washington:

Brookings Institution Press.

2. Magleby, David B. and Anthony Corrado, eds. 2011. Financing the 2008 Elections.

Washington: Brookings Institution Press.

3. Samples, John. 2006. The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

The books are available at the Campus Store and via online booksellers.

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Thursday, Sept. 1 Course Introduction and Welcome Thursday, Sept. 8 More Than Numbers: Why Campaign Finance Matters Magleby and Corrado, chapter 1 Samples, chapters 1 and 2 Corrado et al., chapter 2 Garrett, R. Sam. 2011. “The State of Campaign Finance Policy.” CRS report R41542 (obtained via Lexis Congressional). On e-reserve.

Thursday, Sept. 15 Theoretical Foundations: The Debate Over Money and Speech Corrado et al., chapters 3 and 7 Kerr, Orrin S. 2007. “How to Read a Legal Opinion: A Guide for New Law Students.” The Green Bag: An Entertaining Law Journal 11(1): 51-63. On e-reserve.

Buckley v. Valeo. 424 U.S. 1-30. Excerpt on e-reserve.

Thursday, Sept. 22 Theoretical Foundations: The Debate Over Money and Influence Wertheimer, Fred. 1986. “Campaign Finance Reform: The Unfinished Agenda.” Annals of the American Academy of Political Science 486 (July): 86-102. On e-reserve.

Samples, chapter 3 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. 558. U.S. ___ (2010), slip opinion. On ereserve. (Note: Focus on the Kennedy and Stevens opinions.) Thursday, Sept. 29 Practical Foundations: Money and the Campaign Environment Nelson, Candice J. 2010. “Strategies and Tactics of Fundraising in 2008.” In James A. Thurber and Candice J. Nelson, eds. Campaigns and Elections American Style, 3e. Boulder: Westview, pp. 93-103. On e-reserve.

Garrett, R. Sam. 2010. Campaign Crises: Detours on the Road to Congress. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, pp. 121-139. On e-reserve.

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Thursday, Oct. 6 Early Campaign Finance Policy: The Progressive Era and Before Mutch, Robert E. 2002. “The First Federal Campaign Finance Bills.” Journal of Policy History 14(1): 30-48. On e-reserve.

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