The Lonely Centrist

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

On Campaign Finance: Does Privacy Matter?

For years, even opponents of campaign finance reform have assumed that disclosure is a good thing. Thus, disclosure has become sacrosant. Justice Brandeis's old bromide - which is almost certainly incorrect, by the way, when taken literally - that, "sunlight is the best disinfectant," is repeatedly endlessly, like some medieval spell to ward off corruption.

But disclosure comes with a price, too. Even the Supreme Court has recognized this, in cases such as McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, in which an individual and her school aged children faced retaliation from the school board and teachers for opposing a school tax; and NAACP v. Alabama, in which, in the 1950s deep South, the state sought the names of donors to the NAACP.

Here, Steve Hoersting of the Center for Competitive Politics has made one of the first sensible attempts I've seen to explain when disclosure has value and when it does not; and why disclosure of "grassroots" political activity that does not involve direct contact between the spender and the officeholder ought not be subject to mandatory disclosure and, hence, possible legislative retaliation.

  • The Skeptic
  • Andrew Sullivan
  • Michael Barone
  • The New Republic
  • National Review
  • Democracy Project
  • Bob Bauer
  • Center for Competitive Politics
  • Ryan Sager
  • Going to the Matt
  • Professor Bainbridge
  • Volokh Conspiracy
  • Mystery Pollster
  • Amitai Etzioni
  • Alexander Chrenkoff
  • Middle East Media Research Institute
  • Right Democrat
  • Democrats for Life