Reprinted with permission of In Business Magazine. 

The courts decided long ago that money is an important component of political speech. Campaigns need it to succeed and citizens need it to raise their voices during the election process. After all, a campaign advertisement on television reaches a lot more people than a megaphone at the local park. So, how can citizens and businesses use their resources to influence the outcome of an election? The answer is simple and a bit complicated at the same time.

Few, if any, dispute that money plays a significant role in our election process. For example, last year a combined total of $81 million was spent during the Arizona statewide general election in non-federal races. Of that, $4.4 million was spent on Proposition 206, the citizen initiative that raised the minimum wage, which has had a major impact on Arizona businesses. And the proponents outspent the opponents by a large margin.

Because money has the potential to corrupt, the courts have said that the manner in which elections are financed can be regulated by the government. Thus, it’s important for businesses wishing to influence the election process with their wallet to understand the basic rules.

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