Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002
added new regulations to the financing of political campaigns. The law sought to end the use of “soft money,” or funds raised outside of existing federal campaign finance law. It limited the ways in which national party committees, state, local, and district parties, and federal candidates and officeholders could raise and spend funds for various activities conducted in connection with a campaign for federal office. It added new rules defining when a communication (such as a television or radio ad or mass mailing) was coordinated between a candidate or political party and the person making such a communication, such that the communication amounted to an in-kind contribution or expenditure that required reporting to the Federal Election Commission. It increased limits on individuals' contributions to candidates, and added new regulations with regard to self-financed candidates. It also prohibited corporations and labor unions from funding “electioneering communications,” or certain political ads referring to a clearly identified candidate, usually about a particular issue. The Supreme Court struck down the prohibition on corporate and union funding in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010), holding that it was a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.