Show me the Money!!!!

A Webquest on Campaign Finance Laws

 

Introduction  Task  Process  Resources  Evaluation Conclusion

Teacher Page


Introduction

Congratulations!  You've just landed a position as a graduate assistant to a political science professor at a major university in the United States.  Your professor has been asked by a major think tank to evaluate the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, a new piece of legislation designed to restructure campaign financing, and its effect on future elections and the political process overall.   Your professor is quite interested in completing the project but has little time in her schedule.  She has asked you to head up the research and make recommendations on whether or not this legislation will have a positive or negative effect on the political process.

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Task

You are a little nervous since this is your first assignment and you also know very little about campaign finance (You, of course, don't tell her this!)  You want to impress your new boss so you go out of your way to research the topic in-depth.  You want to gain different perspectives on the issue so you ask several friends in your department to help you. Specifically, your professor wants to know

Your professor has asked you to write a position paper answering these questions.  Your research group must take a position deciding whether or not this legislation will be beneficial to the American people and the American political process.     

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Background for All

Before beginning your research, you will need to do some background reading on campaign finance.    

1.  Read the article, "Big Money," and complete the questions listed on your student handout.  Click here to access student worksheet.*

2.  Read the article on "Campaign Finance Reform:  What's the Issue?"  and complete the questions listed on your student handout.  

3.  In 2002, Congress passed sweeping legislation on campaign finance which the President signed in March.  On your student worksheet, summarize the changes that have taken place because of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.   Use the chart, 'The Bill at a Glance.'

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Process 

1.  Your teacher will assign you to a group of four students.  Each group will consist of the following four roles.  Students within the group may choose their roles.  Each student will research their individual's (or organization's) viewpoint on the new campaign finance law. 

Senator Mitch McConnell (R- KY)** Senator Russell Feingold (D - WI)***

 

National Rifle Association + Common Cause++

 

2.  As an individual member of the group, you will be asked to investigate your role's point of view on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.  Several websites are provided for you to research your role.  Use the attached student handout (#2) to record the information.  You will research the following:

3.  The group reassembles to exchange their information on their assigned roles.  All members record the information on their handouts.   

4.  The group then debates the merits of the new campaign finance law, more specifically answering the question,  "How will the new campaign finance laws affect the American people and the American political process?"  

5.  Each group will then write a position paper with your group's recommendations on whether or not the professor should be in favor or oppose the new campaign finance law.   The paper should have at least three arguments or facts backing up your group's position.   

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Resources:  

1.    Senator Mitch McConnell (R- KY)

2.  Senator Russell Feingold (D - WI)

3.  National Rifle Association

4.  Common Cause

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Evaluation:  

     
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  Conclusion:   

It is clear from the research that campaign finance reform is a controversial issue that sparks debate on both sides of the political spectrum.  Since the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 is such a new piece of legislation, only time will tell whether or not it can successfully address the influence of special interest groups in the political process.  Some additional questions that may be focused on by students for further discussion are the following:

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Credits
*    Adapted from a Webquest by Stacy Dimmick.  "Campaign Finance Reform." [On-line] 1 August 2002. 
     <http://www.mcps.k12.md.us/departments/isa/ninvest/campaign/itcfindex.htm>
**  BBC.  Photo of Mitch McConnell. [Online image] 1 August 2002.  
       <news.bbc.co.uk/.../images/ _1230639_mcconnell_afp150.jpg>

*** CNN.  Photo of Russell Feingold.  [Online image] 1 August 2002.
       <www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1997/ 09/26/senate.debate/>

Beagles Unlimited.  Photo of NRA symbol.  [Online image] 1 August 2002.  <beaglesunlimited.com/ beagle.htm>

++ Common Cause.  Photo of Common cause logo. [Online image] 1 August 2002. <www.commoncause.org/ default2.htm>


Introduction Task Process Resources Evaluation Conclusion
Created By:
Lisa Vardi
Social Studies Teacher
Sherwood High School, MCPS
Last updated November 16, 2002