Suggested Background Reading
Back to Stories and Tips
If you have a book, article, or publication that would be good to add to the list, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hot off the presses: Order now to get "Unstacking
the Deck: A Reporter's Guide To Campaign Finance." Journalists will find it invaluable for pursuing
stories about the impact of money on elections, political parties and candidates at the federal, state and
Campbell, Don, Inside the Beltway: A Guide to Washington
Iowa State University Press, 1991.
"Capital Eye-A Close-Up Look at Money in Politics." A free newsletter
produced by the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington D.C.
Center for National Independence in Politics (Project Vote Smart),
"Issue briefs" prepared the Public Agenda Foundation, a nonpartisan
organization that researches public issues.
Center for National Independence in Politics (Project Vote Smart),
Information on campaign contributors. (Free. Call
Center for Responsive Politics, PACs on PACs: The View from the
Inside, Washington, D.C., 1988.
This monograph reveals the views of 50 PAC directors and how they feel about working on the Hill.
Center for Responsive Politics, The Price of Admission: An
Atlas of Campaign Spending in the 1988 Elections, Washington D.C., 1988.
This computer-generated book uses graphs, charts and maps to analyze
campaign spending patterns in the 1988 congressional elections. National
and state-by-state trends are examined, including PAC contribution,
election totals and other vital money and politics and electoral
Center for Responsive Politics, Soft Money '88, Washington, D.C
This monograph analyses soft money contributions in nine key battleground
states during the 1988 presidential election. Examined are in-state vs
out-of state-contributions, top givers in each state, etc.
Center for Responsive Politics, Spending in Congressional
Elections: A Never-Ending Spiral, Washington, D.C., 1988.
This monograph provides an analysis of spending patterns in congressional
elections from 1974 through 1986, including 1986 soft money contributions
in five states. Also analyzed are PAC contributions and independent
Center for Responsive Politics, The Role of Politicians in Public
Charities, Washington, D.C., 1987.
This monograph examines the role and controversies surrounding public
charities affiliated with federal politicians and those aspiring to
federal office. Individual public charities are examined and attention is
paid in this study to how well these organizations comply with IRS and
Congressional Quarterly, Dollar Politics, Congressional
Quarterly, Inc. Washington, D.C., 1982.
This volume is a basic primer on campaign finance and reform. Dollar
Politics contains basic information on every facet of the issue.
Council on Government Ethics Laws, Campaign Finance Ethics and
Law, The Blue Book, Council of State Governments, Lexington, KY, 1988.
This resource book contains data-packed table on state regulations on
campaign finance, personal financial disclosure, conflicts of interest and
lobby activity in the 50 states, D.C. the Canadian provinces and the U.S.
and Canadian federal governments. This editions includes legislation and
litigation updates on campaign finance, lobby law and ethics at both the
state and federal levels on the U.S. and Canada.
Drew, Elizabeth, Whatever it Takes: The Real Struggle for Power in American,
Penguin Books, 1997
Drew, Elizabeth, Money and Politics: The Road to Corruption,
Macmillian, New York, 1983.
A popularly written account of the rise and growing influence of PACs,
this book was first published in The New Yorker.
Edsall, Thomas Bryne, The New Politics of Inequality, Norton,
New York, 1984.
This book examines the power centers in the Democratic and Republican
parties, the growing influence of corporate lobbying, the declining
influence of organized political parties and the importance of Big Money
campaign contributions in the legislative and regulatory process.
The Federal Election Commission produces a wealth of guides and
on their data. The pamphlet "Your Guide to Research Public Records"
summarizes what is available. Another helpful booklet, "Pacronyms," lists
political action committee acronyms, initials and abbreviations. There also is a separate brochure on the FEC's
on-line access program.
Federal Election Commission, Campaign Guide for Congressional
Candidates and Committees, Federal Election Commission, Washington,
D.C., July 1988.
A guide to the laws and regulations that govern contribution limits,
expenditures, fund raising, advertising, etc.
Federal Election Commission, Campaign Guide for Corporations and
Organizations, Federal Election Commission, Washington, D.C., September 1986.
A guide to the laws and regulations involved in setting up separate
segregated funds, usually referred to as a political action committees.
Federal Election Commission, Campaign Guide for Nonconnected
Committees, Federal Election Commission, Washington, D.C.,1985.
A guide to the laws and regulations that govern setting up a committee
that makes expenditures separate from the candidate and his or her
Federal Election Commission, Campaign Guide for Political Party
Committees, Federal Election Commission, Washington, D.C., September 1989.
A handbook to help state and local party committees comply with FEC laws
Federal Election Commission, Federal Election Campaign Laws,
Federal Election Commission, Washington, D.C., October 1988.
This volume contains the Federal Election Campaign Act and related
campaign finance laws.
Ferguson, Thomas Golden Rule: Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money
Drive Political Systems, University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Fritz, Sara and Dwight Morris, Handbook of Campaign Spending: Money
the 1990 Congressional Races, Congressional Quarterly, Washington,
Gawiser, Sheldon R. and G. Evans Witt, A Journalist's Guide to
Public Opinion Polls, Greenwood Publishing, Westport, CT, 1994.
Goldstein, Joshua, PACs in Profile: Spending Patters in the 1994
Elections, Center for Responsive Politics, Washington, D.C.,
Jackson, Brooks, Honest Graft: Big Money and the American
Political Process, Knopf, New York, 1988.
This book, by The Wall Street Journal's former money and politics
reporter, is a popularly written study of how the Democratic Party funds
its congressional races. Jackson, a critic of today's campaign finance
system, asserts that current campaign finance practices amount to
legalized forms of graft and influence peddling, transferring power away
from voters and into the hands of lobbyists, businesses and other monied
Johnson, Carla B., Election Coverage: Blueprint for
Broadcasters, Electronic Media Guides, Butterworth-Heinemann,
Killenbert, George M., Public Affairs Reporting, St. Martin's
Press, New York, 1992.
Labunski, Richard, The Second Constitutional Convention: How the American People Can Take Back
Their Government, Marley and Beck Press, 2000.
Lavrakas, Paul and Jack K. Holley, Eds. Polling and Presidential
Election Coverage, Sage Publications, Newbury Park, CA, 1990.
Makinson, Larry, Follow the Money Handbook, Center for
Responsive Politics, Washington, D.C., 1994.
Makinson, Larry, Open Secrets: The Price of Politics in Alaska,
Rosebud Publishing, Anchorage, 1987.
This study uses computers and public files to trace the identities and
connections of campaign contributors in Alaska's 1984 and 1986 state
Makinson, Larry, Center for Responsive Politics. Open Secrets: The
Dollar Power of PACs in Congress, Congressional Quarterly Press, 1990.
An encyclopedic guide to PAC contributions to members of Congress in the
1988 elections. Two page profiles of each member's PAC contributions, as
well as profiles of committees and specific industries.
"Money and Politics in the Golden State -- Financing California's
A report from the California Commission on Campaign Financing, an
independent, non-partisan group. It's a 1989 report, but still good
background on the variety of local ordinances and the issues. Call
Nelson, Candice J. and Magleby, David, The Money Chase, The
Brookings Institute, Washington, 1990.
A study of the issues involved in congressional campaign finance reform;
it examines the complexity of the problem and proposes some solutions.
Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records
Administration, Code of Federal Regulations (Federal Elections),
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., published annually.
This volume contains all regulations issued by the Federal Election
Commission, as of January 1, 1988.
Poynter Institute, Poynter Election Handbook: New Ways to Cover
Campaigns, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, St. Petersburg,
Reichley, James, Elections: American Style, The Brookings
Institution, Washington, D.C., 1988.
Scholars who contributed papers to a conference examined
the following reform issues: the presidential selection
process, declining voter participation, problems of
campaign in state as well as federal elections, the
weakness (and importance) of political parties and
media distortion of the election process.
Rosebloom, Eugene H., A History of Presidential Elections,
Macmillan, New York, 1979.
An overview of how presidential campaigning evolved up through the Carter
administration, the book indicates how business interests have
consistently used their wealth to influence elections throughout U.S.
Standard and Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors and
Executives McGraw-Hill Inc., New York, 1998.
Stern, Philip M., The Best Congress Money Can Buy, Pantheon,
New York, 1988.
This book shows the way PAC money influences congressional legislation and
traces the flow of dollars from specific PACs to specific members of Congress. Stern alleges that PAC money involves vested interests buying
privileged access to Congress and, at times, congressional votes.
Stern Philip M,. How to Make Special Interest PAC Money an Issue in
Your Campaign, Citizen Against PACs, Washington, D.C., 1988.
A handbook for candidates and others who are interested in how to make
campaign money, and particularly PAC contributions, an issue in a
campaign. The book also contains a brief summary of sources on PAC data.
Zuckerman, Edward, Almanac of Federal PACs: 1998-99, Amward
Publications, Inc., Washington, D.C., 1998.
A reference book that lists the sponsors and interest of every PAC that
gave $5,000 or more in the last federal election.
The current Almanac
is $240 per copy, but a "professional courtesy discount" is given to
reporters. (The discount is determined by newspapers circulation size as
follows: 20% for newspapers over 200,000 circulation; 50% for newspapers
under 100,000 circulation; 35% for newspapers between 100,000 and 200,000
circulation. For TV broadcasters the discount is based on market size: 20%
for top 50 markets, 35% for markets between 50 and 200, and 50% for
markets below 200.)