The Federal Election Campaigns Act of 1971 (FECA) is a congressional law that regulates the financing of political campaigns in the United States. This legislation was passed during the Nixon administration with the aim of consolidating all prior attempts to reform campaign finance since the start of the 20th century. FECA introduced stricter disclosure requirements for political parties, federal candidates, and political action committees (PACs). It also enabled companies and unions to make unrestricted financial contributions to political campaigns through PACs.
In 1974, FECA was amended to create the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and impose limits on contributions to political campaigns by individuals, PACs, and political parties. The FEC is an independent regulatory agency responsible for administering and enforcing the federal campaign finance law. It has jurisdiction over campaign finance for the United States, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Presidency, and the Vice Presidency. Political parties are actively involved in federal elections at local, state, and national levels. Through FECA and its amendments, Congress has provided public funding for presidential elections, limited contributions to federal elections, required substantial disclosure of campaign financial activity, and created an independent agency to administer and enforce these provisions. The impact of FECA on campaign finance has been considerable.
It has increased transparency in political campaigns by requiring disclosure of financial activity. It has also limited contributions to campaigns by individuals, PACs, and political parties. Finally, it has provided public funding for presidential elections.