Video: Time to end campaign-finance contribution limits

posted at 11:00 am on January 17, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Mitt Romney took a few shots last night, but he finished on a strong note in last night’s debate on what has become the important issue of the last couple of weeks. No, it’s not Bain, at least not directly, but the absurd campaign finance regulations that have allowed the super-PACs to run attacks on issues like Bain Capital, Newt Gingrich’s supposed (and false) sympathy for China’s one-child policy, and so on.  At the end of the debate, Gingrich challenged Romney to tell his super-PAC supporters to pull that ad while admitting that Romney didn’t have any legal standing to do so.  Romney agreed, but then went to the heart of the matter in his final minute:

ROMNEY: We all would like to have Super PACs disappear, to tell you the truth. Wouldn’t it nice to have people give what they would like to to campaigns and campaigns could run their own ads and take responsibility for them. But you know what, this campaign is not about ads, it’s about issues.

BAIER: So governor Romney, in the general election, if you are the nominee you would like to see Super PACs ended?

ROMNEY: Oh, I would like to get rid of the campaign finance laws that were put in place McCain-Feingold is a disaster, get rid of it. Let people make contributions they want to make to campaigns, let campaigns then take responsibility for their own words and not have this strange situation we have people out there who support us, who run ads we don’t like, we would like to take off the air, they are outrageous and yet they are out there supporting us and by law we aren’t allows to talk to them.

I haven’t spoken to any of the people involved in my Super PAC in months and this is outrageous. Candidates should have the responsibility and the right to manage the ads that are being run on their behalf. I think this has to change.

Romney gets support from an unlikely quarter in today’s Washington Post.  Richard Cohen started out his career covering the 1968 presidential election and recalls how Eugene McCarthy managed to push Lyndon Johnson into retirement — and it wasn’t by selling apples on the street corner:

The late chairman of the Dreyfus Corp. [Howard Stein] was a wealthy man but, unlike Adelson, a liberal Democrat. Stein joined with some other rich men — including Martin Peretz, the one-time publisher of the New Republic; Stewart Mott, a GM heir; and Arnold Hiatt of Stride Rite Shoes — to provide about $1.5 million for Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 challenge to Lyndon Johnson. Stein and his colleagues did not raise this money in itsy-bitsy donations but by chipping in large amounts themselves. Peretz told me he kicked in $30,000. That was a huge amount of money at the time.

That sort of donation would now be illegal — unless it was given to a super PAC that swore not to coordinate with the candidate. And until quite recently, even that would have been illegal — the limit being something like $2,400. Many people bemoan that the limit is no more, asserting that elections are now up for sale, as if this was something new. They point to the Adelson contribution and unload invective on the poor right-wing gambling tycoon. I understand, but I do not agree.

Back in 1967, a small group of men gave McCarthy the wherewithal to challenge a sitting president of the United States. The money enabled McCarthy to swiftly set up a New Hampshire operation and — lo and behold — he got 42 percent of the popular vote, an astounding figure. Johnson was rocked. Four days later, Robert F. Kennedy, who at first had declined to do what McCarthy did, jumped in himself. By the end of March 1968, Johnson was on TV, announcing he would not seek a second term. …

Sheldon Adelson is not my type of guy. I don’t like his politics. But he has no less right to try his own hand at history than did that band of rich men who were convinced the war was a travesty-tragedy — and they were right. Since 1968, my views have changed on many matters. But my bottom line remains a fervent belief in the beauty and utility of free speech and of the widest exchange of ideas. I am comfortable with dirty politics. I fear living with less free speech.

Exactly.  As I have written a number of times, campaign-finance “reforms” that restrict contributions create the kind of distortions that result in super-PACs.  If people were free to contribute directly to candidates and political parties in the amounts they desired, there wouldn’t be a need for the outside groups to exist at all.  Then we could hold candidates and political parties responsible for the messaging in the campaigns — and that would almost certainly improve the tone of campaigning markedly.

All we would need is immediate and full disclosure of all campaign contributions, which was impractical 40 years ago when “reformers” started creating all of these artificial categories of money in campaigns — “soft,” “hard,” “non-coordinated,” and so on.  It’s no longer impractical with the Internet.  Make campaign contribution records public on the Internet with immediate FEC reporting and a searchable database, and that would be plenty for voters to determine who owns whom.  Add to that the end of tax-deductible status for PACs and other political organizations, and no one will have any reason to contribute to them any longer, which will put them out of business.

The more nooks and crannies we create, the more opportunities for corruption arise.  We need total sunlight, not speech restrictions.  Romney and Cohen are correct, and even if you don’t like Romney, we should be taking his advice in this case.


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Yeah, so millionaires can have an advantage.

they lie on January 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Romney is of course correct. I don’t think any of the Republican candidates would disagree.

And we know all of them, including the most obscure, have millionaire friends donating. Putting it in their own coffers, instead of Pacs, would at least let us know who is donating to whom, and who is responsible.

neoavatara on January 17, 2012 at 11:05 AM

When Democrats and Republicans agree on any legislation my clench reflex goes into overdrive.

NotCoach on January 17, 2012 at 11:06 AM

There’s way too much money spent on these campaigns. Each candidate should be limited to spending one million dollars in the primary. Period. In the general, it should be a limit of 10 million, and the sitting POTUS should not be allowed to use AF1 or any thing owned and paid for by tax payers other than SS. This would end all of this campaign overload.

they lie on January 17, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Yeah, so millionaires can have an advantage.

they lie on January 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM

That is correct. All of the millionaire congresscritters who like campaign finance laws because they make it more difficult for others to unseat them.

NotCoach on January 17, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Cohen from the WaPo would never have written this a few years ago. But now that a Billion Dollar Man is the Democrat in the White House it’s suddenly OK.

Del Dolemonte on January 17, 2012 at 11:08 AM

What get congress to do something? LOL

rubberneck on January 17, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Yeah, so millionaires can have an advantage.

they liet on January 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM

What’s wrong with that?
Unless you’re going to claim that ‘too many’ millionaires came about their wealth illegitimately, that shouldn’t be a problem.

listens2glenn on January 17, 2012 at 11:09 AM

I have no problem with casinos funding all the anti-capitalism in the name of Newt. It only helps Romney.

hanzblinx on January 17, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Sometimes I wonder if McCain didn’t initiate McCain-Feingold just because he was sick on being on the phone calling contributors, which is probably personally demeaning as well. This is America, we are a free people, and you shouldn’t be able to prevent someone from supporting their candidate, with time, effort, and/or money.

Paul-Cincy on January 17, 2012 at 11:10 AM

It should be legal to raise and pass funds but also transparent so the public knows who bankrolls candidates.

lexhamfox on January 17, 2012 at 11:11 AM

When Democrats and Republicans agree on any legislation my clench reflex goes into overdrive.
NotCoach on January 17, 2012 at 11:06 AM

That’s good. : )

That would make a good sign or bumpersticker. Maybe a tee-shirt?

listens2glenn on January 17, 2012 at 11:12 AM

Dear leader wouldn’t show all his contributions in
08, you think he would now?

Or am I wrong

cmsinaz on January 17, 2012 at 11:12 AM

Yeah, so millionaires can have an advantage.

they liet on January 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Better millionaire to have advantage than machine politics and union cronyism having an advantage (which is what happens with campaign finance laws).

haner on January 17, 2012 at 11:12 AM

I thought that Romney’s remarks about the damage that McCain-Feingold inflicted on transparency and limits of free speech were spot on. Romney could have enhanced him points to include your provisos, Ed.

We now live in a real-time method of accountability in campaign funding. Now let’s also note that not only super-pacs a source of problems but also that shutting down the security feature on Obama’s campaign sites was a blatant method of disguising fundraising sources.

onlineanalyst on January 17, 2012 at 11:14 AM

It should be legal to raise and pass funds but also transparent so the public knows who bankrolls candidates.

lexhamfox on January 17, 2012 at 11:11 AM

You mean, Obama has to publish the names of his Chinese and Palestinian donors?

Archivarix on January 17, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Better millionaire to have advantage than machine politics and union cronyism having an advantage (which is what happens with campaign finance laws).

haner on January 17, 2012 at 11:12 AM

This is a tricky topic – because it relates to a philosophical difference in our country. Do we allow one person with enormous monetary resources at his/her disposal rule the outcome of an election, or do we allow a multitude of people with much smaller, but collective, voices do the same? If put to vote, I am convinced the latter would win out because it jives better with the overall American ideal of “fairness”. But then – what happens to the one wealthy person’s First Amendment rights? And the dilemma continues…

peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Hasn’t Newt been saying the same thing for weeks?

Cindy Munford on January 17, 2012 at 11:20 AM

There was no presidential candidate more unwelcome (by the party establishment) than Eugene McCarthy in 1968, and his candidacy was financed by five or six wealthy liberals. At least to start with. He jumped in very late, so, no other way to do it. And back then, it was allowed. The biggest hurdle is getting to the point where people know your name, and know why you’re running. After that, other contributions start coming in.

RBMN on January 17, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Yeah, so millionaires can have an advantage.
they lie on January 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Millionaires already have a massive advantage and we have no way of knowing who is buying who. In the last election, when McCain Feingold was still in effect, we had the greatest amount of money poured into a cmpaign (Obama’s campaign) in American history. Annonymous money. You can never, ever keep big money out of politics. If we eliminate these restcitions and require full disclosure at least we will know who owns who.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 11:25 AM

The biggest hurdle to getting rid of McCain-Feingold is the requirement of transparency. The robber barons who bankroll our establishment will be loathe to that change, since it will likely be a PR disaster for the corporations / organizations they are associated with. And so it will never happen.

peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Do we allow one person with enormous monetary resources at his/her disposal rule the outcome of an election, or do we allow a multitude of people with much smaller, but collective, voices do the same?

You would hope that the individual was informed enough to not be swayed by 1 minute commercials. But, since education has been transformed into test passing instead of thinking, it will be a long time (if ever) before that we could see money spent as a non-issue.

LoganSix on January 17, 2012 at 11:27 AM

If we eliminate these restcitions and require full disclosure at least we will know who owns who.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 11:25 AM

You will never get full disclosure – http://hotair.com/archives/2012/01/17/video-time-to-end-campaign-finance-contribution-limits/comment-page-1/#comment-5319927

peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 11:29 AM

There is no effective way to control campaign finances that does not adversely affect first amendment rights. Romney is right; allow anything but disclose everything, immediately (within 24 hours).

We might want to have some special rules for labor unions and corporations because they are using other peoples’ money, but that should be done via rules for their finances, not through campaign finance rules. Unions are really a special case because some of their money is extracted from unwilling donors who must give them money to have a job.

JayDick on January 17, 2012 at 11:29 AM

If people were free to contribute directly to candidates and political parties in the amounts they desired, there wouldn’t be a need for the outside groups to exist at all. Then we could hold candidates and political parties responsible for the messaging in the campaigns — and that would almost certainly improve the tone of campaigning markedly.

Umm, you’re essentially advocating a return to 1910.

Without limits on personal contributions, wealthy individuals could buy elections. It’s not just about being able to fund a candidate’s ad campaign. It’s everything associated with a campaign, and more money almost always means more influence and power.

bifidis on January 17, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Yeah, so millionaires can have an advantage.

they lie on January 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM

They pay more money in taxes and you and everyone else gets to benefit from it. Why shouldn’t they have a say that is proportionate to their taxation? That seems quite fair.

beatcanvas on January 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM

But, since education has been transformed into test passing instead of thinking, it will be a long time (if ever) before that we could see money spent as a non-issue.

LoganSix on January 17, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Couldn’t agree more. If we go all the way back to the origins of democracy in Greece, the philosophers (both Aristotle and Plato, also others) had warned that an educated electorate was one of the primary pillars of democracy. As the level of education goes down, so does the quality of a democracy (whether direct or representative).

peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 11:32 AM

This is OT, but there is important information regarding Romney and history of African-Americans here.

bloggless on January 17, 2012 at 11:32 AM

I never understood how money supposedly “bought” politicians. You can have all the money in the world but you are SOL if nobody wants to vote for you. Look how many examples we have in this Primary alone:

Trump
Huntsman
Romney-but people seem to like what he has to say, of course.
Perry

Mord on January 17, 2012 at 11:32 AM

MM, trying hard to mask that she’s also deeply in the azz of Romney, just like Fox.

Schadenfreude on January 17, 2012 at 11:33 AM

The Super Pacs have to report who their donors are.

The transparency already exists.

profitsbeard on January 17, 2012 at 11:33 AM

If people were free to contribute directly to candidates and political parties in the amounts they desired, there wouldn’t be a need for the outside groups to exist at all.

Why would that be the case? Would no one see the utility in having a well funded operation that you could disavow at any time, acting as attack dog with no real consequence?

Either way, it sounds like you admit that oligarchs have an outsized say in elections, and that you feel they ought to, at the expense of those without such means.

ernesto on January 17, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Of course McCain Feingold was a bill – it was written by a diaper wearing senile twit and a communist. It’s only slightly less egregious than Sarbanes Oxley and Dodd Frank.

CorporatePiggy on January 17, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Romney and Cohen are correct, and even if you don’t like Romney, we should be taking his advice in this case.

Indeed. Money/contributions are free speech.

I still don’t like Romney. Nancy Pelosi agrees that he can’t win.

The witch is sometimes right; may her broom hammer take her away anyway.

Schadenfreude on January 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM

Make it fully known who buys/owns whom, and for how much.

Schadenfreude on January 17, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Without limits on personal contributions, wealthy individuals could buy elections.

They did that through buying votes outright, and that’s still completely legal. It’s just that nowadays, the way to buy votes is to do so with taxpayer dollars, and the only people who are allowed to do it are incumbents. Given a choice, I’d rather have billionaires buy elections with their own money than have incumbents buy elections with my money. At least the billionaires are liable to be smarter and more interested in the well-being of the country.

Fabozz on January 17, 2012 at 11:38 AM

They pay more money in taxes and you and everyone else gets to benefit from it. Why shouldn’t they have a say that is proportionate to their taxation? That seems quite fair.

beatcanvas on January 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM

One dollar one vote is next.

In the end I agree with the premise as Ed lays out.

CW on January 17, 2012 at 11:38 AM

There’s way too much money spent on these campaigns. Each candidate should be limited to spending one million dollars in the primary. Period. In the general, it should be a limit of 10 million, and the sitting POTUS should not be allowed to use AF1 or any thing owned and paid for by tax payers other than SS. This would end all of this campaign overload.

they lie on January 17, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Have you actually read the First Amendment? You know, one of the key provisions of our country’s highest law? The one that was written to protect political speech and that says that Congress shall pass no law that abridges it?

If you limit candidates to spending a certain dollar amount, you are severely limiting their ability to produce everything from TV ads to bumper stickers and are, by definition, severely restricting their freedom of speech. Which flies in the face of the First Amendment.

Shump on January 17, 2012 at 11:40 AM

You do have to love it that our representatives take our money and buy our votes. They then get to act like heroes.

CW on January 17, 2012 at 11:40 AM

They pay more money in taxes and you and everyone else gets to benefit from it. Why shouldn’t they have a say that is proportionate to their taxation? That seems quite fair.

beatcanvas on January 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM

You are giving us the Citizen Kaine argument – that a man’s influence in a society should be proportional to his wealth / taxation, which is at the heart of the campaign reform movement to begin with. You seem to conveniently forget the fact that a capitalist society provides your hypothetical uber-rich person with a lot of resources that he/she did not have to pay for. That includes a plethora of infrastructure to create / sell their goods, to protect their material possessions, to make sure his/her business is not impacted by unfair practices by other businesses, and so on.

Isn’t taxation a just price for these resources (since the uber-rich and uber-successful would use a lot more of these resources than your average Joe)? Do we (as a society) need to let them buy elections as well? I do not think your point is without merit – it is, in fact, at the heart of who we are as a nation.

peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 11:40 AM

You will never get full disclosure –
peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 11:29 AM

We can come a lot closer to full dislosure than we can come to eliminating the inordinate influence of the wealthy in US elections.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Umm, you’re essentially advocating a return to 1910.

Without limits on personal contributions, wealthy individuals could buy elections. It’s not just about being able to fund a candidate’s ad campaign. It’s everything associated with a campaign, and more money almost always means more influence and power.

bifidis on January 17, 2012 at 11:29 AM

The First Amendment says that Congress shall pass no law abridging the freedom of speech. It doesn’t say “unless wealthy people are using their money to buy elections.”

Shump on January 17, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Without limits on personal contributions, wealthy individuals could buy elections. It’s not just about being able to fund a candidate’s ad campaign. It’s everything associated with a campaign, and more money almost always means more influence and power.

bifidis on January 17, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Democrat Old Joe Kennedy bought his son the 1960 election.

Del Dolemonte on January 17, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Either way, it sounds like you admit that oligarchs have an outsized say in elections,
ernesto on January 17, 2012 at 11:33 AM

They always have and always will – that is an immutable fact.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 11:43 AM

Which flies in the face of the First Amendment.

Shump on January 17, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Even many righties on this site could care less about the Constitution.

CW on January 17, 2012 at 11:44 AM

They always have and always will – that is an immutable fact.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 11:43 AM

Even in the event that we were to move to a public-financing-only model? Not that we should, but you’re making a serious claim.

ernesto on January 17, 2012 at 11:46 AM

George Soros hs a lot of money, or so I hear.

Oh, I would like to get rid of the campaign finance laws that were put in place McCain-Feingold is a disaster, get rid of it

I wonder how McCain feels about his endorsement now. Mitt just crapped on his baby.

a capella on January 17, 2012 at 11:47 AM

We can come a lot closer to full dislosure than we can come to eliminating the inordinate influence of the wealthy in US elections.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 11:41 AM

You do realize that these two facts (“absence of transparency” and “inordinate influence of the wealthy in US elections”) go hand in hand – right? Because the very wealthy will be loathe to disclose their identity fearing an inevitable PR backlash, and hence will never support the candidates who pass such a bill.

peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Steven Hayward at Power Line observes that Cohen is agreeing with George Will on this. Hell Freezes Over?

Del Dolemonte on January 17, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Because the very wealthy will be loathe to disclose their identity fearing an inevitable PR backlash, and hence will never support the candidates who pass such a bill.
peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM

I have no reason to believe that. Do you have anything to back it up.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Who knew that something McCain and Feingold threw together would be so flawed. Who knew?

Bmore on January 17, 2012 at 11:52 AM

Money doesn’t always buy elections. California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman spent over $177 million vs. Jerry Brown’s $36 million in 2010. She was nominated precisely for her overwhelming financial advantage, and she lost.

Sure, California is a Democrat state (44% vs. 30.9% Republican) and demographics threaten the party’s very existence. And there are the powerful unions and Hollywood, a lot for any GOPer to overcome.

But Whitman’s overwhelming financial advantage was of no advantage to her at all. She was defeated by a house-maid.

de rigueur on January 17, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Also, for folks who mention First Amendment rights for the wealthy, it is pertinent to note that First Amendment rights are not absolute and they do come with caveats, as illustrated in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morse_v._Frederick .

peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Even in the event that we were to move to a public-financing-only model? Not that we should, but you’re making a serious claim.
ernesto on January 17, 2012 at 11:46 AM

A mandator public financing system would just drive big money outside the system but it would still be spent. Money and power are inextricably linked and can never be separated – the entirety of human history demonstrates this. Regardless of the political or economic system involved.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM

Have always agreed with Romney/Cohen/Ed on this…

Allow people to donate as much they would like to a campaign. This is free speech represented by our dollars.

g2825m on January 17, 2012 at 11:58 AM

I thought McCain-Feingold put an end to money and politics.

angryed on January 17, 2012 at 12:00 PM

People with money always have and always will have more influence than people without money. You can write 100 new McCain-Feingold laws and it won’t change anything.

angryed on January 17, 2012 at 12:02 PM

Yeah, so millionaires can have an advantage.

they lie on January 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Don’t like it? Then get off your butt and make some money rather than calling for Mommy Government to make it faaaiir….

rhombus on January 17, 2012 at 12:03 PM

The more power we give politicians the more outside money will be used to corrupt the process and the politicians. The only way to lessen the corrupting influence of money is to lessen the power of any given politician. The more political power we concentrate in Washington DC, the more influence money will have.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Don’t like it? Then get off your butt and make some money rather than calling for Mommy Government to make it faaaiir….

rhombus on January 17, 2012 at 12:03 PM

The govt’s role is to create a fair playing field. The ability to buy elections outright is not a fair playing field. Might as well give everyone more votes for having more money.

angryed on January 17, 2012 at 12:04 PM

I have no reason to believe that. Do you have anything to back it up.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 11:51 AM

I thought the PR backlash reason would be obvious to folks who regularly survey political news, but here are some data points:

(1) Target : http://abcnews.go.com/Business/target-best-buy-fire-campaign-contributions-minnesota-candidate/story?id=11270194

(2) Whole Foods : http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=whole%20foods%20health%20care&source=web&cd=3&sqi=2&ved=0CEYQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2Ftemplates%2Fstory%2Fstory.php%3FstoryId%3D112035655&ei=f6kVT9WUCeKK2QX05LCDCg&usg=AFQjCNHX-ml8AMEOK8n9Vs_J8Ct3iU78Ew&sig2=yeB-vw-db1V3Nn8rT_-VXA

I can go on and on. Again, it should be obvious that it is risky for the owner of a large conglomerate to reveal his/her political cards – since it will turn off customers, and therefore is not in line with their fiduciary obligations to shareholders.

peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Because the very wealthy will be loathe to disclose their identity fearing an inevitable PR backlash, and hence will never support the candidates who pass such a bill.

peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Naah. The progs take pride in their contributions, and thereby get invited to all the best cocktail parties. In any case, there would be contribution launderers like Tides to help out.

slickwillie2001 on January 17, 2012 at 12:05 PM

I thought McCain-Feingold put an end to money and politics.

angryed on January 17, 2012 at 12:00 PM

I mean really, who’da thunk with Johnnymac and Rustyrusswuss things wouldn’t work out better?

Bmore on January 17, 2012 at 12:07 PM

The govt’s role is to create a fair playing field.

Article? Section?

rhombus on January 17, 2012 at 12:07 PM

peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Heither of those articles involved contributors hiding their identtiy because of potential backlash or any type of backlash occuring due solely to the amount of money contributed.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Democrats will never go for it because it allows people like Soros to dump millions of dollars into “non campaign” campaigns where he can say whatever he wants without the candidate having much say in it.

crosspatch on January 17, 2012 at 12:09 PM

My Dad was correct when he said, “We would be better off if the Mafia ran the country and we only had to worry about four or five families. The way it is now there are just too many bosses.”

mixplix on January 17, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Naah. The progs take pride in their contributions, and thereby get invited to all the best cocktail parties.

slickwillie2001 on January 17, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Depends on what they are doing. Most of the super-wealthy in this country own some kind of a business, and that has customers across the political spectrum. It’s not in the best interest of a CEO to tick off a customer base. I know a CEO (of a Fortune 500 company) who, when asked a politically charged question in an all hands meeting, said “If I were to divulge my political leanings, I would not be standing on this podium right now”.

peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 12:12 PM

The McCain-Feingold Congressional Incumbent Seat Protection Act?

No. That’s going to be there quite a long while.

logis on January 17, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Oh goodie, now I can buy some favors, wait a minute…… what’s changing?

mixplix on January 17, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Heither of those articles involved contributors hiding their identtiy because of potential backlash or any type of backlash occuring due solely to the amount of money contributed.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 12:09 PM

I never said the backlash happens solely because of the amount of money contributed – it happens because your customer base is ticked off if you show your political leaning while leading a business (unless the business sells overwhelmingly to one political side, and even then its bad business strategy).

peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Newt’s a phenomenal debater, but I loathe him for constantly making Romney look good.

Ron Paul is funny when he’s coherent, although sincere.

Aizen on January 17, 2012 at 12:22 PM

The First Amendment says that Congress shall pass no law abridging the freedom of speech. It doesn’t say “unless wealthy people are using their money to buy elections.”

Shump on January 17, 2012 at 11:42 AM

First of all, campaigns do a lot more than fund electioneering communications. They bankroll organizations intent on political power and influence.

Citizens have a right to free and fair elections of democratic integrity. That’s not possible without some limits on campaign finance, obviously.

bifidis on January 17, 2012 at 12:28 PM

I never said the backlash happens solely because of the amount of money contributed

But that’s all we were talking about. Why change the subject?

– it happens because your customer base is ticked off if you show your political leaning while leading a business
peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 12:14 PM

No, your customer base gets ticked off if your politics is counter to theirs. In the whole foods article you linked, if the CEO had contributed a zillion dollars to Obama rather tham making a conservative comment, as he did I, I’m sure the customer base would have been happy as clams. Your examples were instances of ideology, not repercussions for the amount of money given to politics.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 12:49 PM

That’s good. : )

That would make a good sign or bumpersticker. Maybe a tee-shirt?

listens2glenn on January 17, 2012 at 11:12 AM

Heh. Thanks.

NotCoach on January 17, 2012 at 12:53 PM

No, your customer base gets ticked off if your politics is counter to theirs. In the whole foods article you linked, if the CEO had contributed a zillion dollars to Obama rather tham making a conservative comment, as he did I, I’m sure the customer base would have been happy as clams. Your examples were instances of ideology, not repercussions for the amount of money given to politics.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 12:49 PM

And that’s precisely what I am saying – any business leader that shows ideological leanings is a bad business leader. That’s also precisely why they like anonymous contributions via Super PAC’s – because then they can influence elections and get their desired policies enacted, and yet not have to show their ideological leanings.

peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 12:59 PM

And that’s precisely what I am saying – any business leader that shows ideological leanings is a bad business leader.
peter_griffin on January 17, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Which is why just donate heavily to both side. You’ve shown no evidence that the amount of MONEY a business contributes effects said business adversely in a amount greater than what advantage it gained from the contribution.

tommyboy on January 17, 2012 at 1:05 PM

Of course outside groups now have the right to speak up and are spending money, but that is because that is how it is set up right now. It is the only place they can spend what they want.

If they could give it to the candidates, then some of them might. Then you would see who and how much, and you could decide if you did not want to vote for the person that George Soros put his money on, you could skip him/her.

The outside groups don’t always have a good knowledge of the people hearing their message or the facts, and now we see it makes a mess.

However: If you are a candidate, and you hear your PAC supporters are incorrect or telling lies…it Behooves you not to repeat the lies. Simple. Don’t touch them, don’t repeat them, don’t even wonder dramatically and rhetorically if they are true.

Its that simple.

Fleuries on January 17, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Campaign finance is a direct assault on freedom of speech in the first amendment. If the people are too ignorant to handle full disclosure of donations and let freedom reign, then our other liberties are at risk as well. If you can’t handle free speech, then how in the world can you handle the right to bear arms etc.?

scotash on January 17, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Have you actually read the First Amendment?AM

You know, one of the key provisions of our country’s highest law? The one that was written to protect political speech and that says that Congress shall pass no law that abridges it? If you limit candidates to spending a certain dollar amount, you are severely limiting their ability to produce everything from TV ads to bumper stickers and are, by definition, severely restricting their freedom of speech. Which flies in the face of the First Amendment.

Shump on January 17, 2012 at 11:40

Did I mention Congress passing a law? Nope. The Federal election commission limits Individuals to a dollar amount that they can contribute to political candidates and campaigns. So, their freedom of political speech is limited. So,if individuals are limited, why not limit amount politicians can spend?

they lie on January 17, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Did I mention Congress passing a law? Nope. The Federal election commission limits Individuals to a dollar amount that they can contribute to political candidates and campaigns. So, their freedom of political speech is limited. So,if individuals are limited, why not limit amount politicians can spend?

they lie on January 17, 2012 at 1:20 PM

The individual limit is unconstitutional. Just about everything about campaign finance laws are unconstitutional. The only thing constitutional about any of them are reporting requirements placed on candidates running for office.

NotCoach on January 17, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Romney should not have said

I haven’t spoken to any of the people involved in my Super PAC in months

This means he did speak to them at some point.

Connie on January 17, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Citizens have a right to free and fair elections of democratic integrity. That’s not possible without some limits on campaign finance, obviously.

bifidis on January 17, 2012 at 12:28 PM

“Limits on campaign finance” had absolutely no impact on the eventual outcome of the 2000 Presidential election, unless you think that wealthy Republican groups “paid” the Supreme Court of the United States to decide in favor of Bush.

Only problem with that “logic” is that it could also be argued that wealthy Democrat groups paid the all-Democrat Florida Supreme Court to try to re-write Florida election law after the election had already taken place, in order to steal that election for Algore.

Del Dolemonte on January 17, 2012 at 1:44 PM

The individual limit is unconstitutional. Just about everything about campaign finance laws are unconstitutional. The only thing constitutional about any of them are reporting requirements placed on candidates running for office.

NotCoach on January 17, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Uh. Ok. That settles it. Good to see that you have replaced the Supreme Court.

they lie on January 17, 2012 at 1:47 PM

What a stupid article. Of course campaign finance restrictions are a good thing. Let’s see, how would we break the system that Ed’s proposing? What if someone just drops off a large bag of cash at a campaign, or otherwise makes a large anonymous donation online? Guess we wouldn’t find out who made the donations then, huh? What if candidates started to launder large portions of their incoming donations through an anonymizer service, so that they could report most of their income as coming from anonymous donations, to “protect the privacy” of their donors? How would the FEC or anyone else figure out who donated what? You’d have to audit the individual accounts of donors to look for donations to people who would’ve then cashed out, which is an auditing nightmare especially when you have no idea who to audit in the first place. The Internet doesn’t solve the problem of figuring out contribution records, it makes the problem worse.

solatic on January 17, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Uh. Ok. That settles it. Good to see that you have replaced the Supreme Court.

they lie on January 17, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Oh, I see. SCOTUS is made up of omniscient and unbiased beings who are never wrong themselves. For the sake of your own sanity you better ignore all those decisions in which SCOTUS overturns itself.

NotCoach on January 17, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Money can be influential in elections, no doubt.

But we are no longer tethered to the paper bound press, a few radio networks or a few tv networks but now have a wide and deep media that has a general low cost availability and the ability to move messages with almost no overhead.

Money can buy you a lot of things, yes.

It is not the sovereign in deciding elections… and the attempts to put bloggers and those recording their own speech as ‘contributions’ is a horror and stepping away from that imposition on citizen’s freedom also requires that the rich be allowed to spend and waste their money as they please. Not every well financed candidate will win. We just had a large number of elections in 2010 that demonstrated that point.

When politicians realize they can spread a message on the cheap with volunteers that will outperform high priced, glitzy dinosaur campaigns, then the money question will be relegated to the history books. There is a reason that politics has become detested enough for the plurality to not vote: it is too controlled from the top. Change that dynamic and the entire system changes very quickly and then money isn’t even a major plus when you have people dedicated to spreading the word as that is the most powerful force of speech.

ajacksonian on January 17, 2012 at 2:28 PM

I was cheering for him on this point.

netster007x on January 17, 2012 at 3:14 PM