What is the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Act of 2002?

The law was passed by the House of Representatives on Feb. 14, 2002, and by the Senate on March 20, then signed into law by President George W. Bush on March 27. In its final stages before passage, it was also known as the McCain-Feingold bill, named after main sponsors Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Russ Feingold, D-Wis. Other key sponsors were Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and James Jeffords, I-Vermont. In the House, Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Martin Meehan, D-Mass., sponsored the legislation. The main provisions of the law, which took effect on Nov. 6, 2002, are (1) a ban on “soft money” donations to political parties by individuals, corporations and unions; (2) restrictions on “electioneering communications” — broadcast advertisements close to an election that mention specific candidates by name; and (3) an increase in the limits on donations individuals may make to candidates for federal office.

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