Law: Money Talks

Free speech includes spending

During their head-to-head 1980 election battle, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan each received $29.4 million in public funds. In return, both agreed not to raise any private money. But groups of private money raisers not formally affiliated with either candidate pumped an added $10.6 million into the contest; all but $28,000 of it benefited Reagan and was used mostly for advertising. Earlier, the Federal Election Commission had tried to block the outlays, citing a statutory spending ceiling of $1,000 for independent groups. But a three-judge federal court in Washington called the limit an unconstitutional infringement of free speech....

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