In a recent report, the OECD revealed how private interest groups are able to abuse regulatory loopholes, using methods such as loans, membership fees and third party funding, in order get around spending limits. Such an arrangement is having a negative impact on the fairness of the entire political process.
The international organisation has urged governments to apply tighter regulations and to enforce them more thoroughly in order to restore public faith in the political process.
“Policy-making should not be for sale to the highest bidder”, said OECD Secretary General, Angel Gurría. “When policy is influenced by wealthy donors, the rules get bent in favour of the few and against the interests of the many.
“Upholding rigorous standards in political finance is a key part of our battle to reduce inequality and restore trust in democracy,” he added.
In its report, the OECD outlined a number of areas where advanced economies can act in order to make the political party funding and campaign donations process fairer, as well as more transparent.
It argues that countries need to “strike a balance” between public and private political financing, realising that relying solely on public or private funding is not possible, but rather a blend of the two.
The OECD also recommends that rather than developing and implementing a brand new set of rules, advanced economies should simply work harder to enforce existing regulations in order to ensure compliance.
Campaign finance has once again been a hot topic throughout the US presidential nomination process, with Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton coming under fire recently for the donations that she received from the investment bank Goldman Sachs after she delivered a speech to its employees.
Former US president Jimmy Carter has made his feelings known about the damage that campaign finance has done to the American political process, labelling it “legalised bribery”. He even called the landmark 2010 Citizens United court decision, which declared that campaign spending is a form of free speech, an “erroneous ruling”.
“I didn’t have any money,” Carter said during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. “Now there is a massive infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns for all the candidates. Some candidates like Trump can put in his own money, but others have to be able to raise a $100m to $200m just to get the Republican or Democratic nomination. That’s the biggest change in America.”