Monday, September 10, 2007

Campaign Finance Folly

I'm steamed about campaign finance laws that limit the amount of money people can contribute to political parties or politicians. They are an affront to the constitutional protection of speech. (I fully support mandatory disclosure of donor names and amounts.) People trying to get around the artificial limits on campaign contributions have resulted in a host of undesirable effects.

John Fund passed along a report that renewed my frustration. People feel the need to concoct all sorts of shenanigans to circumvent the absurd campaign finance laws.
Mr. Hsu later became one of Mrs. Clinton's top bundlers--powerbrokers who collect many small donations for delivery to candidates. He brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars to her and other Democratic causes. The Wall Street Journal reports that many of the contributions came from "people who had no prior history of political giving or obvious means for paying."

Take the Paw family of Daly City, Calif., which is headed by a mail carrier who makes $49,000 a year. Members of the family have given almost $300,000 to politicians, including Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, since 2004, often on or about the same days that Mr. Hsu gave money. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether any Hsu donors were illegally reimbursed for their contributions.
I regret that we've created a market for people like Hsu. Reports are now coming in that Clinton will return all the money associated with Hsu. She shouldn't have to, but she really has no choice.

Of course, John McCain is a mastermind behind this reform. It will give me pause in supporting him if he is the GOP candidate.


Jesse Harris said...

Also consider the major negative effects this has on third party and independent candidates. With limits on how much each person can donate, you have to make it up on volume, something only Republicans and Democrats have been able to do. For this reason alone will I never cast a vote for McCain.

Scott Hinrichs said...

Point 1: McCain-Feingold is an incumbency protection plan. But its side effects include the shifting of power and the creation of a black market, which occurs in all price control situations.

Point 2: The media has a double standard on the Hsu story. Had the donations been going to a Republican, this would have been THE headline on every news program and in every news publication for days. And after that it would have been above the fold on the first page and in the first three minutes of the broadcast (a la Larry Craig). The media is reporting on the Hsu scandal in a lackluster way, making it sound like a sleeper issue.