Democracy Fund

The Democracy Fund invests in organizations working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people.

Democracy Fund

Bauer Ginsberg Campaign Finance Research

The Bauer Ginsberg Campaign Finance Research is a bipartisan working group exploring the current state of campaign finance reform and money in politics through a collaboration of political scientists. This effort is lead by Bob Bauer (NYU), Benjamin Ginsberg, and Nate Persily (Stanford Law).


The debate over campaign finance reform is at an impasse due to sharp and long-standing political and ideological differences on constitutional principle and the role of government, as well as the rapid pace of change in the law and political practice. The division has reached a scale where there is no longer agreement on how the system actually functions. The Bauer Ginsberg Campaign Finance Research seeks to provide a descriptive account of all aspects of the current campaign finance system.

The research project acknowledges that the first step to identifying problems within the system is to have meaningful bipartisan agreement about how campaign finance laws actually operate in American elections. The top Democratic and Republican election lawyers Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg, the former co- chairs of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration and Nate Persily, Constitutional law expert at Stanford Law School, will seek to better understand the landscape of the money in politics space by convening a small group of academics and practitioners from across the country.

The working group will provide bipartisan research that can serve as a common factual basis for understanding and discussing the role of money in politics. A public report, which will be released at the conclusion of the project in 2017, will not propose policy recommendations, but instead will discuss the fundamental changes occurring in the campaign finance system and place them in historical context.

Total Commitment

2015: Up to $100,000 over one year.