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Iowa L.Rev.Bull.


This Essay considers Professor Gilbert’s model as the core element in a dynamic system of campaign finance disclosure. First, it recognizes several useful contributions of the model’s framework of informational costs and benefits. In the simplest analysis, disclosure increases the information available to voters by adding source revelation to campaign speech. However, the reality is more complicated. Disclosure can have a chilling effect that decreases the amount of campaign speech by imposing administrative and exposure burdens on speakers. As Professor Gilbert shows, this cannot end the analysis. What matters is not just the magnitude of the chilling effect on speech, but the net “information tradeoff” between the decrease in campaign speech and the increase in source revelation, both of which are informative to voters.

Second, this Essay builds upon the information tradeoff in several directions, drawing on other scholars’ perspectives of campaign finance as a complex system of dynamic interactions. It refines the speaker’s cost-benefit function in the information tradeoff at the level of the individual disclosure rule, extends the information tradeoff analysis to dynamics involving multiple individual disclosure rules at the regime level, and considers the aggregate information tradeoff from multiple interacting regimes at the system level. The Essay concludes by suggesting that, given the difficulty of determining the information tradeoff at the rule, regime, and system levels, analysts, policymakers, and courts should more often recognize the value of second-best solutions to campaign finance disclosure.


The Iowa Law Review Bulletin website shows this article appearing in volume 98. Yet each page of the article indicates that it is published in volume 99. Thus both volumes are listed above.