It’s time to end political dark money, de facto public campaign financing
Chief Justice John Roberts, in writing the Court’s Mc-Cutcheon case opinion, seemed to define the earth as both round and flat at the same time.
Lifting contribution limits was OK, he wrote, because public disclosure will keep things honest:
First, consider the problem of limitless, dark or secret campaign money.
In two 5-4 decisions, the Supreme Court freed billionaires from having to comply with strict limits on how much they can invest in electing politicians. It also freed them from the scrutiny that comes when voters know who paid for ads they are watching and perhaps believing.
In 2010, the Supreme Court reversed decades of campaign finance regulations by ruling it is unconstitutional to limit political spending by corporations, unions and even the richest individuals.
Finally, consider this three point reality that proves we actually have a form of public financing — done in the worst possible way.
1) Candidates dial for dollars, seeking/demanding campaign money from lobbyists whose special interests are regulated by the candidates’ congressional committees.
2) The special interests invest money in the candidates’ elections, because they will later need favors in the form of tax write-offs and loopholes. It is money the special interests will get keep that would otherwise be federal revenue.
3) Later the special interests receive favors worth billions of would-be tax dollars, a spectacular return on their campaign investments.
That’s the system we have. It’s the most wasteful public financing of campaigns you could imagine.
Think tanks, concerned citizens and maybe even a few principled senators and representatives must now work to enact rules or constitutional amendments that will fix our undemocratic and wasteful campaign finance mess.
Martin Schram, an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune, is a veteran Washington journalist, author and TV documentary executive. Readers may send him email at email@example.com.
Campaign 2014 has at least given us this: three out of the four branches of Washington’s governance clearly have seen the light about dark money in politics.
Most politically savvy players in three branches, the executive branch, legislative branch and, the news media branch now grasp the corrosive impact of the so-called “dark” or secret money in politics.