Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 21, 2006
POLITICS: Enforcing Campaign Finance Laws

Apropos of this story:

Most campaign finance laws are toothless, which only adds to their hypocrisy. But a good test of whether a law regarding campaign finance - or elections generally - is worth enacting is whether a violation should be sufficient to result in (a) imprisoning a public official, (b) overturning an election result or (c) calling a new election. And you should consider that possibility in the worst case scenario, where it means convicting a politician you strongly support and/or handing over an election to an adversary you loathe.

Some laws are clearly worth that: laws against voter fraud, laws against outright bribery, even laws against taking money from foreign governments. I would argue that if you replaced the current scheme with clear, bright-line full-disclosure rules, non-trivial violations of those rules could be sufficient to result in one of those three severe outcomes.

If the purpose of the law in question isn't worth overturning an election or throwing an elected official in the slammer, then it shouldn't be on the books in the first place. Free speech, even about politics, has its outer limits, but within those limits the government shouldn't be handing out speeding tickets.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:52 PM | Politics 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I agree with you 100%. That being said, it will never happen. Lawmakers are not going to enact a law/rule that they know could come back to bite each of them. To bad, but ethics are lacking with our elected officals on both sides of the aisle.

Posted by: maddirishman at February 22, 2006 3:17 PM

Well, then why have any laws at all, then, other than those that carry the death penalty?

There are some purely procedural rules that should carry fines and force money returns...you're throwing baby out with the bathwater again...

Posted by: AstrosFan at February 23, 2006 3:00 PM
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