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  • Press Release

FEC Reports Major Increase in Party Activity for 1995-96

March 19, 1997



WASHINGTON-Fundraising by both major political parties increased substantially during the 1995-96 election cycle, according to figures released by the Federal Election Commission.

From January 1, 1995, through December 31, 1996, national, state, and local Republican party committees reported federal receipts (hard dollars) of $416.5 million and disbursements of $408.5 million. This represents a 57% increase in fundraising and a 62% increase in spending over the last Presidential cycle of 1991-92. Democratic committees raised $221.6 million and spent $214.3 million during 1995-96, representing an increase of 36% in both federal receipts and disbursements when compared to the last Presidential cycle.

In federal candidate support, Republican committees contributed $3.7 million directly

to candidates and spent $31 million in coordinated expenditures* on behalf of candidates. Democratic committees contributed $2.2 million and spent $22.6 million in coordinated expenditures.

In addition, the ''''96 cycle was the first in which party committees were permitted to make independent expenditures. Only the Senatorial campaign committees and selected state and local party committees of each party made these expenditures, which totalled $11.5 million (Republicans spent $10 million and the Democrats $1.5 million).

The following chart provides a comparison of political party activity during the past 10 election cycles:

1995-96 1993-94 1991-92 1989-90 1987-88 1985-86 1983-84 1981-82 1979-80 1977-78
Raised $221.6 $139.1 $177.7 $85.7 $127.9 $64.8 $98.5 $39.3 $37.2 $26.4
Spent $214.3 $137.8 $171.9 $90.9 $121.9 $65.9 $97.4 $40.1 $35.0 $26.9
Contributed $2.2 $2.2 $1.9 $1.5 $1.7 $1.7 $2.6 $1.7 $1.7 $1.8
Coord. Exp. $22.6 $21.1 $28.0 $8.7 $17.9 $9.0 $9.0 $3.3 $4.9 $0.4
Indep. Exp. $1.5
Raised $416.5 $245.6 $267.3 $206.3 $263.3 $255.2 $297.9 $215.0 $169.5 $84.5
Spent $408.5 $234.7 $256.1 $213.5 $257.0 $258.9 $300.8 $214.0 $161.8 $85.9
Contributed $3.7 $2.8 $3.0 $2.9 $3.4 $3.4 $4.9 $5.6 $4.5 $4.5
Coord. Exp. $31.0 $20.4 $33.8 $10.7 $22.7 $14.3 $20.1 $14.3 $12.4 $4.3
Indep. Exp. $10.0
(federal dollars only, in millions)

Both parties ended the 1996 election with extensive debts; Republican debts totalled $15 million, Democratic debts $17.4 million, with a similar debt distribution among the committees. Cash on hand for each party was $5.5 million.

Individuals accounted for 87% of Republican committees'''' federal receipts, contributing $362.1 million. Democratic committees received 77% of their federal funds from individuals contributing $171.3 million. Regarding PAC support, Democrats received $19.2 million, or 9% of receipts, up $4.1 million when compared to the previous Presidential cycle. Republicans received $13.8 million from PACs, just 3% of total receipts, but this represented a $9.2 million increase over 1991-92.

The 1995-96 election cycle was the third in which non-federal (soft money) receipts of national party committees were reported and both major parties showed a dramatic increase in the amount of funds raised and spent. Democratic national party committees raised $123.9 million in non-federal funds, up 242% from 1992, the last Presidential cycle, and spent $121.8 million, up 271%, while Republican national party committees raised $138.2 million, up $178%, and spent $149.7 million, 224% more than in 1992.

Soft money is used to pay a portion of the overhead expenses of party organizations, as well as other shared expenses that benefit both federal and non-federal elections. It is used for issue advocacy, as well as generic party advertising. A portion is transferred from national committees to state and local party committees, while some is contributed directly to candidates in non-federal races. It also supports construction and maintenance of party headquarters.

During the 1995-96 election cycle, Democrats disbursed $121.8 million from their non-federal accounts. Of this amount, $64.6 million was transferred to state party committees, $4.4 million was contributed to state/local candidates, while $33.3 million was spent on joint federal/non-federal expenses and $19.5 million was used for other expenses. Republican disbursements totalled $149.7 million during the cycle, of which $50.2 million was transferred to state parties and $5.2 million was contributed to state/local candidates. Also, $57.2 million was spent on joint federal/non-federal activity and $37.1 million was spent on other expenses.

Attached to this release are various charts, graphs and tables describing overall political party financial activities during the cycle:

  • Statistical details of 1995-96 political party activity;
  • Details of contributions and coordinated expenditures by candidate status, i.e. incumbent, challenger and open-seat;
  • Comparable summary statistics for five election cycles;
  • Summary information on 1995-96 non-federal activity and comparable figures for three election cycles;
  • Transfers from the national committees'''' federal and non-federal accounts to each state;
  • Party contributions, coordinated expenditures, and independent expenditures for each 1996 general election candidate.

The FEC''''s Final Report on 1995-96 financial activity of political party committees will be published later this year.

Data in this release are also available on the Internet. The FEC address is (look under Financial Information for Candidates, Parties, and PACs). This release is also available under News Releases and Media Advisories.

  • Coordinated expenditures are monies spent by national and state party committees on general election nominees and are in addition to contributions. Under election law, these expenditures, like contributions, are limited in amount. Party committees may work with candidates'''' campaigns to determine how the monies should be spent, but the campaigns do not receive the funds.