A short history of the U.S.A. Election Market

From the "Father of our Country," George Washington, to the mafia-connected political bosses of the prohibition era, to today's politicians funded by "soft money", big money has often had an important influence on United States elections.

Here are a few examples of vote-buying in America:

In 1757, George Washington ran for a seat in the Virginia House of Burgesses. For this election he purchased more than a quart and a half of alcoholic beverages for each of the 391 voters in his district.

A candidate in the 1838 New York mayoral election paid $22 per uncommitted vote.
In 1907, Congress passed legislation to prohibit corporations from making direct campaign contributions for federal candidates. Unions were banned from making the same types of contributions in 1947. By the late 1960's and early 1970's candidates began ignoring these laws by accepting large donations. Insurance executive Clement Stone gave $2.8 million to Richard Nixon's 1968 election campaign. The Milk Producers Association gave $2 million for Nixon's re-election campaign in 1972. (Nixon subsequently supported an increase in milk price subsidies.) Although these instances are examples of big corporations purchasing influence with candidates as opposed to purchasing influence with voters, it is significant that the donations were made to Nixon's campaign. This money was then used to pay for advertising, and other expenses. It is media advertising that now influences the voter.
Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) purchased the Seattle Seahawks in 1997. He then called for a referendum to ask for $300 million in state money to build a new stadium. Instead of obtaining the thousands of required signatures necessary to put an issue on the ballot, he simply paid for the costs of the election. He then spends over $4 million in advertising to convince the people of Washington to vote for the new stadium. The result: The Football/Soccer stadium is expected to be finished in 2002.