What was the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, created in 1971, intended to provide?
The Presidential Election Campaign Fund was established to provide public funding for presidential campaigns, which are, as is well known, very expensive. Basically, taxpayers can decide to order that a few dollars be placed in a fund to be distributed to potential candidates. The Federal Election Commission determines which candidates are eligible to receive funding. The purpose of the fund was to keep candidates from turning to wealthy private donors, who might exercise an undue and corrupt influence on elections. The problem, however, is that those candidates that receive money from the fund do so in return for a pledge to limit their spending on their campaigns. In recent years, changes in laws and Supreme Court decisions have made it possible for candidates to legally raise far more money through private donors than they could through the Campaign Fund. So in the last election, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney refused all public funds. Most Americans, in fact, choose not to contribute to the fund on their tax returns.