I’ve long had the opinion that there is no sense in having complicated campaign finance laws.
The limits on campaign contributes and the rules on dinners and where you can fund raise simply create Byzantine schemes to defy or skit the law. It’s a full employment scheme for consultants and lawyers who make a good living taking their clients as close to the sidelines of the law as they can without going out-of-bounds.
I’ve always found this wasteful, impractical nonsense, particularly in an internet age. My thought has always been: No limits, full disclosure and huge penalties for non-disclosure. That increases the incentive for people to openly give what they want and full disclosure means when a candidate or sitting pol is being bought you know it.
This plan rests on two pillars:
The people. If the people have access to this information via the net, they can discover who is paying what to who. This gives every voter has the ability to make an informed decision if they choose to.
The press: It would require little effort for the press to access such a public database, in fact one would assume a large city paper would assign at least a few people to monitor it. A smaller paper might do the same for their member of congress and senators and the members of the state legislatures in their district. It assures them of a nice three-story sequence with commentary to wit:
Reporting of said contribution: “Amalgamated Widgets of Walla Walla today make a large contribution to congressman Igot Bigpockets (R-Walla Walla) in the amount of $35,000. Congressman bigpockets sits on the committee that supervises the export of proprietary widgets to Asia.”
Reporting of comments or lack thereof: “Amalgamated Widgets had no comment on their large contribution to the campaign of congressman Bigpockets yesterday. When asked for comment congressman Bigpockets spokeswoman I. Candi said: ‘The congressman appreciates the support of an employer of so many in his district and will fight to help keep those jobs in Walla Walla.'”
Analysis of the moves: “With a bill relaxing widget export rules in committee congress, Amalgamated Widgets is taxing no chances. With the environmental group AOTBS (American Opposed to Building Stuff) lavishing dollars on committee members to keep the bill stalled Amalgamated decided it was time to go all in.”
and commentary: from the left: “The apparent ownership of congressman Bigpockets by amalgamated couldn’t be more clear if it was 1767 and he was a man named Kunta Kinte standing on a block in Virgina.” and from the right: “The Irony of the activists of AOTBS deriding industry while chattering away on cell phones and tapping on their tablets is only exceeded by their ultra rich supporters with large stakes in Xai Widgets International who stands to lose most from this bill.”
Such a system in theory would work fine, the data would be out there, active and involved voters will get the information and act on it, while thanks to the press reports on it more passive voters will have at least an inkling of what is going on.
However the more I see how far the left the press has gone where we’ve reached a point where sex scandals involving US Senators and underage hookers are not newsworthy while videos can be altered to create outrage to support an issue and where “Look at the ass on her” doesn’t draw a comment from Feminist authors. I must conclude there is little or no chance under the system I envision of money going to liberal pols from liberal contributors from business or groups on the left to enter into the conversation.
Given that situation, these lousy and incomprehensible laws are the only restraint on the influence or restraint to the outright purchase of the pols of the left.
Until and unless we of the right gain a stronger voice in media and culture we will have to settle for the law to provide the stick that the press will not.