POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

Hard Money

Money given directly to a political candidate is known as "hard money". Donations in the US have to follow the strict rules set out by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). This differs to "soft money" which are donations or political contributions made to political parties.

Federal Funds

Hard money is also known as "federal funds" as it is intended to be used in conjunction with federal elections. These funds must be raised in accordance with the regulations set out by the FEC. Hard money is not able to be donated by unions or corporations directly but has to come from individuals. A corporation can, however, make contributions through political action committees. As of 2012, an individual may only donate a maximum of $2,700 USD.

Hard money may be spent on political adverts and campaigns for a particular candidate. This includes adverts promoting a politician or directly attacking the opposition.

See also: Soft Money, Presidential Election, Federal Election Campaign Act

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