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Robert G. Boatright

This chapter describes the ways in which changes in American campaign finance since 2010 have worked to the advantage of a subset of "populist billionaires." The donors who have been advantaged by the deregulation of American campaign finance law are individuals whose sources of wealth make them less accountable to the public and less dependent on conventional forms of political access than past donors. The chapter draws upon recent research on the political attitudes and activities of the very wealthy in American politics, and it compares political spenders in recent elections to those active in elections of past decades. It closes with some thoughts on the normative consequences of these changes and their relationship to political corruption.

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Robert G. Boatright

American political parties have always been weaker than the political parties of other nations, and U.S. campaign finance regulations have tended to favor candidates and groups, not parties. This has particularly been the case since the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. This decision, which sanctioned the creation of ‘Super PACs’, has led to a system in which the distinction between party organizations and party-allied interest groups has become difficult to make. This chapter explores the consequences of this development for party accountability, political corruption, and political polarization.