DimWit Politics

Campaign Finance Laws Need To Be Repealed… For the Most Part

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Campaign Finance Laws Need To Be Repealed… For the Most Part

Campaign Finance Laws Need To Be Repealed… For the Most Part
November 12
20:23 2018

Our most recent election cycle had one characteristic like so many before it: The political left again called for campaign finance reform that would “drive money out of politics.” Oh, the proponents paint a very scary picture of how big money influences legislators. They buy legislation that is not in the best interest of the average American. They single out corporate lobbyists in general and such organizations like the National Rifle Association, specifically. Of course, they never mention labor lobbyists, anti-gun lobbyists and the enormously powerful education lobbyists.

The problem with the proposed campaign finance reforms is that they are even worse than the Federal elections laws that were passed back in the 1970s and created the Federal Election Commission. Proponents of so-called campaign finance reform point to all the dreaded “dark money,” the political actions committees (PACs) and the independent expenditure committees as the villains – the seducers and corrupters of our elected officials.

In a way, they are a problem. In fact, they would not even exist if it were not for the 1974 election law that the “reformers” point to with pride. They lament the fact that billionaires are using their personal money to “buy” offices. The 50-year-old election law actually entices the billionaires to run because they know that they can outspend the competition on day one. The only thing that can stop a bad billionaire candidate is a good billionaire candidate.

According to the Supreme Court, Congress can control and limit the size of campaign contributions – and it has — but it cannot limit the amount one can spend of his or her own money on a campaign – ergo the billionaires can start their campaigns with literally unlimited funds. If Amazon’s Jeff Bezos – who is worth $160 billion and rising – decides to run for President, he could start off his campaign with a personal donation of $10, $20, $50 billion dollars and still be the richest man in America.

There is a second advantage that few voters would recognize. Let’s say that a “Billionaire Bill” decided to run for President and put an immediate $1 billion into his campaign fund. His less endowed opponent (meaning financially) is Mr. Smith, who wants to go to Washington (hmmm. That has a familiar ring to it). Smith will need to raise $1 billion from family, friends and supporters to compete. With the contribution limit at $2,700 per individual, Mr. Smith would have to solicit a MAXIMUM donation from 370,371 people – that’s 1,014 donations per day.

There are even more problems for Mr. Smith. Even if he could eventually reach that goal, it would take him soliciting money full time for the entire campaign while Billionaire Bill is out giving speeches, hiring staff, sending out literature, buying advertising and meeting with the press.

It is obvious that Mr. Smith is going to have to rely on hiring professional fundraisers if he has any chance of raising a billion dollars and find time actually to talk to voters about the issues. Since fundraisers take a cut of the money – averaging about 30 percent – the Smith campaign will have to raise more like $1.3 billion dollars to match Billionaire Bill.

And yes, I know that there are other sources of money for Mr. Smith – usually from those PACs and mysterious committees that the reformers hate. But even those potential donors are limited by FEC rules to around $5,000.

Mr .Smith could get some help from those so-called independent expenditure committees. But he cannot control or coordinate with them. That’s why they call them “independent.” They can place ads on television about Mr. Smith and his issues without his prior knowledge or his permission. They could even put ads on the air in his name that might even embarrass or hurt his candidacy. It has been done.

There are a lot of Billionaire Bills out there, and more and more of them are running for Congress and gearing up for presidential bids. Despite his loathing for those “one percenter” billionaires and millionaires, Bernie Sanders is more than willing to allow them to continue their advantage. Whether you limit private campaign contributions by law or you fund campaigns with spending limits using only taxpayer money – as Sanders prefers — the billionaires will still have no limits. So sayeth the Supreme Court. Maybe Sanders does not really care because virtually all the richest of the rich – Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer – are Democrats. AND Zuckerberg, Bloomberg and Steyer have already hinted at runs for the White House.

If there was any really good intention in passing the 1970s election laws, it was eradicated by unintended consequences. It was advanced that there is a public interest in limiting campaign funds. That is a false assumption typical of the government-must-control-everything liberal mentality.

Campaigns are not too expensive when you consider their function in a free republic. The money is used to inform voters – to tell voters what a candidate stands for and what they plan to do in office. That information is essential. Those billions upon billions of private funds are also great for the economy.

It really does not matter how much a candidate raises or spends so long as the voters can be aware of those contributions and make up their own minds if any donations are bothersome – and they can vote accordingly.

There is also a good reason why we should limit campaign contribution disclosures to major donations — not every donation in excess of $150. Even under our current system, it is only bigger donations that are flagged and reported in the press. The smaller donations are ignored by the voters BUT are used by the politicians to see who is donating to whom.

When I talked to a top Illinois legislator to set up a meeting for a client, the legislator began our private conversation by noting that my client had donated to the legislator’s opponent in the past – and several times to members of the opposite party. It was his suggestion that the imbalance should be corrected before we have a meeting. This was not an exception, but pretty much the way the donor lists are used.

They are also used to intimidate. A number of business friends were willing to donate to my mayoral campaign except that they did not want their names on my finance report where it would be seen by those folks (Democrats) in city hall because they needed to do business with Mayor Daley.

If we cannot entirely solve all the problems associated with campaign contributions, we could move in the right direction by allowing unlimited contributions with severe penalties for failing to report major contributions publicly. That would abolish the need for dark money. PACs and independent expenditure committees – and maybe even the FEC.

We should let the public decide about campaign contributions when they consider their vote. That is something big government liberals hate because they do not trust the individual. They view the common person as too stupid or too dishonorable to do the right thing. Hence, they need a big brother to look over them.

While the proponents of so-called campaign finance reform say it is their desire to take the special interests out of the political process, they would put campaigns under the control of the biggest and arguably most dangerous special interest – the government.

So, there ‘tis.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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6 Comments

  1. Jerry
    Jerry November 13, 23:28

    Why comment when it will not e posted?

    Reply to this comment
  2. Bukk
    Bukk November 14, 17:25

    Unbelievable and totally insane

    Reply to this comment
  3. md
    md November 14, 19:37

    when is Soro gonna run out of money? Or die either or!!!

    Reply to this comment
    • MVP
      MVP November 14, 22:22

      DOn’t get your hopes up. His son is already in line to continue the same…

      Reply to this comment
  4. joeG
    joeG November 14, 19:42

    who is the author of these stories? why isn’t anybody ever named?

    Reply to this comment
    • Johnny
      Johnny November 14, 20:53

      I guess you don’t know how to read. His name is Larry Horist. His name is right above this section and in the line of the article. How did you write your comment if you cant read?

      Reply to this comment

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