Badger Blog Alliance

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Thursday, June 26, 2008

RJT: Stop Limiting Campaign Money

The Racine Journal Times has seen the campaign finance light (emphasis added):

What the current laws have produced is not a fairer or freer system but an intricate one that is the object of constant struggle as each party attempted to shut down the favored funding sources of the other and interest groups pushed to make their points public.

So let’s stop. Let’s remove the limits and let the money flow where it will with one important condition: Candidates should be required to record every contribution as they are now, but in addition political groups would be required to disclose their major sources of funding. That should also apply to groups spending on behalf of a candidate as the 527 committees do now. Couple this with an easily accessible (on the Internet), current summary of contributions, and the public would know precisely who funded a negative ad campaign and could judge accusations accordingly.
Let’s acknowledge, though, the problems with requiring private groups to register and report: a government office will have to determine exactly which speech, and/or what amount of spending triggers the law – that is, there will have to be lines drawn as to who has to report and who doesn’t, and those lines are going to be subjective.

We can sugar coat it, and insist that it’s still for the best, but the bottom line is the government will have a hand in deciding which speech is free, and which is subject to regulation.

But I'm quibbling with what is otherwise a great editorial. Here's more:

If this seems too extreme, ask yourself what we have achieved in the past 30 years. Post-Watergate reforms have not produced a fairer, more noble election system. Trying to grip campaign money has been like squeezing water; both leak out around the edges and flow on unimpeded.

What is different this time is the technology of campaign funding. The easy Internet connection between candidates and donors, and the ease of seeing who is supporting whom and who is backing both opposing candidates, may finally counteract the large piles of special-interest cash which used to flow in secret. In other words, the way to counteract an imbalance in funding may be more democracy instead of more rules.
You know, I'd swear I'd read this somewhere before.

Hat tip