Wednesday, December 03, 2003
Opponents of placing commonsense limits on campaign contributions and spending sometimes argue that limits are bad because big donors will then just find other ways to spend their money in ways that are less obvious for the public to see. Better to just let special interests buy elections, but disclose everything so that the public can at least know that our legislatures are bought and paid for. Disclosure is the key to everything, so they say.
The trouble with this logic is that even in states that have no limits, fat cats find a way around disclosing their activities if they want to. Here's a story from Oregon that tells of a donor who had three businesses that he owned give money to two different political committees, who then gave the money to one candidate -- making it nearly impossible for the public to be able to tell where the money came from. Update: here's an even more detailed story in the Oregonian.
Disclosure is fine, for what its worth. But, lets not pretend that its a replacement for setting limits on spending and contributions, or that those limits will undermine disclosure.