Whose Voice is it Anyway? The Influence of Campaign Finance on Party Politics

1.0 substantive credit in PA, NY, NJ, IL, FL, CT

Political parties bring like-minded individuals together across states and across time to ensure that certain policies are cultivated, though individual terms may end. By advocating for a set of keystone issues and supplying funding to candidates, parties ensure the advancement of their interests. Yet, in the 2016 election, presidential contenders, including the President-Elect, had not previously been affiliated with their parties. Often, these candidates had positions that were at odds with the policy foundations of their parties. What is the role of political parties, with so much campaign funding being from super PACs and individual donors? What is the future of each party? How do we ensure that the voices of the many are included in the electoral process?


Jason Abel
Of Counsel, Steptoe & Johnson

Jason Abel is Of Counsel at Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, DC. He has more than a decade of experience in both the public sector and private practice. From 2009 -2011, Abel served as chief counsel for Chairman Sen. Schumer on the US Senate Committee on Rules & Administration and, for two years prior, as counsel for Sen. Schumer in his personal office. His federal campaign finance practice includes PAC formation and compliance, including day to-day management of complex trade association PACs. Abel also advises on the political activity limits placed on nonprofit entities. He has a keen eye to any Congressional, state, or local legislative activity related to campaign finance restrictions, having been the lead Senate aide for campaign finance issues including the DISCLOSE Act, the Democratic response to the Supreme Court’s opinion in Citizens United v. FEC.

Rebecca Ballhaus
Reporter at The Wall Street Journal

Rebecca Ballhaus is a reporter in The Wall Street Journal’s Washington, D.C. bureau, where she writes about national politics, campaign finance and lobbying. During the 2016 campaign, she covered every aspect of the candidates’ fundraising and spending, reporting on Donald Trump’s payments to his family-owned businesses, Hillary Clinton’s overlaps with her foundation as secretary of state and corporate leaders’ political giving. In July 2016, she won the Sandy Hume Memorial Award for Excellence in Political Journalism for her campaign coverage.

Ballhaus graduated from Brown University, where she was Managing Editor and Vice President of The Brown Daily Herald.

Kedric L. Payne
Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Kedric Payne is the Deputy General Counsel for Environment and Compliance. He is primarily responsible for providing legal counsel concerning environmental protection laws, international and national security, ethics, and personnel matters.

Prior to joining the Department, Payne was Deputy Chief Counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics where he supervised investigations of Members of Congress for violations of various laws and standards of conduct. He practiced in the political law group of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, advising clients on compliance with campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics laws. As a litigator at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, he defended clients in commercial litigation matters. Payne was a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Shira A. Scheindlin in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Payne is an adjunct faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a recipient of the 2014 Adjunct Teaching Award. He often lectures on ethics at universities and professional conferences and has previously published work on the subject. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Yale University, and he received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

Ian Vandewalker
Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law

Ian Vandewalker serves as counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program where he works on voting rights and campaign finance reform. He has authored or co-authored nationally recognized reports and articles, including Stronger Parties, Stronger Democracy: Rethinking Reform and a recurring series of analyses of spending in U.S. Senate elections. His work has been featured in press outlets across the nation, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, MSNBC, Newsweek, and The Los Angeles Times. He has also published academic articles in the fields of election law and civil liberties. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Vandewalker served as a legal fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights, where he litigated constitutional cases in state and federal courts across the country. Before that, Vandewalker served as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellow in Nonprofit Law at the Vera Institute of Justice and clerked for the Honorable Frederic Block of the Eastern District of New York.

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University of Pennsylvania Law School
University of Pennsylvania Law School

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