cj#366> J Warren ideas on Campaign Reform (Comments?)


Richard Moore

Date: Mon, 25 Dec 1995
To: •••@••.•••
From: •••@••.••• (Jim Warren)
Subject: GovAccess.230: net v.FCC; ulobby?; $reform; 1st; NJ; ...telco XXX


Lest You Think Campaign Finance Reform is Easy - Missouri Federal Appeal

From: •••@••.•••
Date: Sun, 24 Dec 95 02:52:00 UTC 0000

On Tuesday December 19, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down
the contribution limits of a 1994 Missouri campaign finance reform
initiative. The measure, sponsored by ACORN and the Missouri PIRGs, set
$100 contribution limits for state House candidates, $200 limits for state
Senate candidates, and $300 for statewide candidates.

The three-judge panel said that the limits "unconstitutionally burden the
First Amendment rights of association and expression." Carver v. Nixon, No.


Campaign Finance Reform -- Problems and Solutions

I have long had mixed feelings about limiting campaign "donations."

On the one hand, "contributions" are clearly destroying (have destroyed?)
any hope of fair representation and legitimate democratic processes.

On the other hand, *any* useful limit is functionally an incumbants'
guarantee program, since incumbants can almost always raise the limit more
easily and obtain much greater access to free publicity than can a
challenger.  A challenger *needs* MUCH more loot than an incumbent.

And then there're those silly ol' First Amendment things about right to
assemble and peaceable petition for redress of grievences, and freedom of
expression -- *especially* political expression -- which is inherently
choked and chilled by *any* campaign spending limits.

My naive, imperfect solutions:

1. Prohibit *all* contributions by any entity except the "People" of the
United States - and get rid of this idiotic lawyers' fiction about a
corporation being a "person."  No PACs; no corporations; no nonprofit
organizations; no corporate special interest groups; no union donations as
unions, and certainly no foreign corporations or organizations.  Of course,
organizations would remain free to advocate that their members donate as
individuals, and - in fact - conduct unlimited *independent* political
advocacy, as they now are (but not controlled by nor coordinated with the
campaign they are supporting).

Per California's Prop.187 findings, this might have to be expanded to
include all residents of the U.S., including foreign nationals, illegal
aliens, etc. -- but I don't see any constitutional requirement that
corporations or organizations have the right to buy political favor by
direct campaign donations.

2. Prohibit all tax credits and tax deductions for political donations.
(That chills most of the wealthy and also keeps U.S. citizens from acting
as conduits for contributions from foreign and other prohibited sources.)
For any corporation or organization discovered laundering contributions
through individuals, impose felony criminal penalties on both the
individual and the highest three officers in the corporation who were
knowledgable of or authorized the contribution.

3.  As is currently the case, continue to require timely full disclosure of
the names, cities, occupations, employers and total amounts donated, loaned
or promised for everyone who thus offers more than, say, $100, with said
disclosures filed in electronic form by the recipient and made available
online within 24 hours of filing. Require 10-times penalties for favorable
errors, and prompt recall elections upon discovery of substantial (to be
defined) amounts not timely disclosed.

Beware: I've heard some rumor that requiring such disclosure may be
challenged as infringing freedom of assembly by its chilling effect.
Please note that we still don't know the authors of most of the Federalist
Papers nor Anti-Federalist Papers -- all were published under pseudonyms
that to this day remain almost entirely unidentified.

Yeah, all of this could be *considerably* improved.




 Posted by Richard K. Moore (•••@••.•••) Wexford, Ireland
 •••@••.•••  | Cyberlib=http://www.internet-eireann.ie/cyberlib