The Michigan Auto Dealers Prosecution: Exploring The Department of Justice’s Mid-Century Posture Toward Campaign Finance Violations

In this article, Allison Hayward examines the impetus behind a 1948 decision by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute a Flint businessman for making illegal corporate contributions and the legacy of what transpired. Ultimately, lawyers on both sides questioned the legality of the “corruption” laws, and the case ended without a single conviction. The tenacity of the DOJ in its quest to make convictions is of great interest to Hayward throughout this piece, which she eventually proves was unwarranted. The results beg the question:  why weren’t campaign finance laws enforced before the Voter Registration Act of 1974? Using this case as context, Hayward thoroughly overviews campaign finance regulations before 1974 and provides an interesting look at campaign finance regulation in its infancy.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.