Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Another example of the pointlessness of campaign finance regulations

This past summer the US Supreme Court ruled that issue based political ads that were not designed to influence an election were not subject to campaign finance regulations. On its face this may seem an obvious and correct result. But consider the behavior of a newly formed group called the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America.

As explained more fully in this story the group is now running ads in South Carolina urging citizens to contact Congress to express their support for the so-called Wounded Warriers Act. What's wrong with that, you say?

1. Congress is already in support of the bill, and it is virtually guaranteed to pass anyway. 2. The bill's sponsor, John McCain, is targeting South Carolina for a win in his race for president, and 3. The ad prominently features McCain.

When the legality of this kind of ad was before the Supreme Court McCain's lawyers filed a brief opposing the practice. But the Supreme Court ruled the First Amendment rights of issue based groups could not be stiffled just because they might want to speak during an election. As the story points out, "The decision removed virtually any restrictions on these groups’ ability to advertise, and made nonprofit corporations, with their few disclosure requirements, the tool of choice for big donors looking to influence elections because of their wide latitude to advertise."

Here is yet another example why campaign finance regulations are foolish, and frankly, anti-democratic. They become so complex that lawyers are necessary to figure them out. And no matter how intricate or nuanced the regulations, the First Amendment rights to speak supercede most of them anyway. So what's the point of having them?


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