Money drives many things in our country, and politics is no exception. Campaign finance laws limit the amount of money contributed to federal election candidates and prohibit contributions from certain sources. An FEC guide explains the nuances of existing campaign finance law.
"Hard money" describes money contributed directly to a particular campaign. Hard money contributions are limited to $1,000 per candidate per federal (presidential or congressional) election by the Federal Election Campaign Act. State regulations vary. "Soft money" describes funds donated to a political party or organization for the promotion of issues, not candidates. Because it is difficult to account for the use of these funds, a lot of debate centers on soft money contributions.
Contributions from political action committees are another source of controversy. PACs range from business associations to single-issue groups. By law, PACs can only donate $5,000 per candidate per election.
The resources below will outline the issues and help you "follow the money" to see who is contributing what to each candidate's coffer.