It all starts off so well. The headline on the Washington Post editorial board’s thundering homily today reads, “Candidates who mock the law,” certainly an issue pulled from many other headlines. Even the lead paragraph builds hope that the most prominent newspaper in the nation’s capital has had enough of one particular candidate who broke the law as a Cabinet official, and whose family foundation took in millions in cash from foreign countries while she served as Secretary of State:
A PILLAR of American democracy is the tenet that no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States, as was amply illustrated by the Watergate scandals that brought down Richard M. Nixon. This is why the integrity of presidential candidates draws justifiable attention during the race. A president must have the right stuff — the right judgment and temperament — not only to respond to crises and wars but also to preserve and lead a system based on laws.
Do they mean secret e-mail servers designed to confound the Federal Records Act? Running a private intel network, run by a longtime crony who acted at least once as an unregistered foreign lobbyist for a pro-Putin politician? Using her office to raise money from foreign governments for her family foundation? Actually, this Post’s editorial board never mentions Hillary Clinton and the number of laws she has already broken.
Instead, the WaPo’s ire is directed at Jeb Bush, Martin O’Malley, Ted Cruz, and Rick Santorum. For following the law, actually. They just don’t like their methods of compliance within a campaign-finance system that practically begs candidates to act in a similar manner:
Thus it is very disturbing to see evidence that four undeclared candidates for the presidency, from both parties, have made questionable judgments about campaign finance laws. According to complaints filed by two activist groups that favor more openness, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, the four are sidestepping restrictions on fundraising and spending activity on those who are “testing the waters” before deciding whether to run.
The Federal Election Commission has established rules for those in this phase, but the four are simply skirting the rules by saying they are not really testing the waters.
WaPo’s editors are unhappy that the four are traveling the country, giving speeches, and raising money for super-PACs without announcing? Well, I hate to break it to them, but that’s not “mocking the law,” that’s following the law. They can thanks Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold for that, along with a generation of other lawmakers who tried to build artificial limits and categories for campaign donations. The solution to the hypocritical nonsense of federal campaign finance laws is to replace them with immediate and full disclosure of all aggregate donations over $200. The money will then flow to candidates and political parties directly, who will have accountability for the messaging created by the cash. Until then, it’s not just useless to blame politicians for responding to the legal and regulatory incentives from the FEC, in this case it’s also hilariously hypocritical, since the Post has supported these very laws all along.
Plus, of course, they’re very selective about the law-mocking that offends their sensibilities. While the editorial board trots around on its high horse, they seem to have missed the one presumed candidate who really has mocked the law. Hillary Clinton destroyed records on her private server that were under subpoena by Congress. Instead of raising funds from voters while jumping through the FEC’s hoops like her potential opponents, Hillary had fundraiser Dennis Cheng working at the State Department while taking money from foreign governments, then transferred him first to the Clinton Foundation and now her pre-campaign organization.
Where’s the Washington Post editorial blasting Hillary Clinton for mocking the law? The editorial board seems intent on making a mockery of journalistic integrity today.
Update: I fixed the link in the first paragraph; my apologies for the error.