Bradley A. Smith (born 1958) is a professor at Capital University Law School who served as Commissioner, Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) between 2000 and 2005. He is best known for his writing and activities opposing campaign finance regulation.
A Michigan native, Smith received a B.A. from Kalamazoo College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1990. After briefly practicing law with the firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, Smith joined the faculty at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio in the fall of 1993. Smith's breakthrough came in 1996, when the Yale Law Journal published his article, "Faulty Assumptions and Undemocratic Consequences of Campaign Finance Reform."
In "Faulty Assumptions", Smith laid out a case against campaign finance regulation, arguing that efforts to regulate money in politics had been based on a series of incorrect beliefs about the effects of money in politics, and that as a result not only had "reform" failed to accomplish its objectives, it had made many of the problems worse. "Faulty Assumptions" can be considered one of the most influential articles published on campaign finance in the last quarter of the 20th century. The article, or others by Smith, have been cited in numerous recent Supreme Court decisions striking down campaign finance laws on Constitutional grounds, including Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In 2010 The New York Times called Smith the "intellectual powerhouse" behind the movement to deregulate campaign finance. The importance of "Faulty Assumptions" lay in its blending of existing political science research with legal and constitutional theory. Before "Faulty Assumptions", most legal scholarship on campaign finance had followed a narrative that assumed the corruptive and anti-egalitarian effects of large campaign contributions and spending, and had then focused on the creating a legal regime to control those effects and justify regulation against First Amendment claims recognized by the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo. At the same time, these articles largely ignored a growing literature in political science based on empirical studies of campaign spending and regulatory regimes. Smith's contribution was to bring these two arms of scholarship together, blending the growing body of empirical data to the constitutional and legal principles laid out elsewhere. The result was to challenge the very foundation of campaign finance reform in both politics and constitutional law. Smith's analysis forced proponents of reform to rethink many basic assumptions, or at least to justify them against his critique...
Quotes by Bradley Smith
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