Why the SCOTUS Decision on Corporate Political Spending May Not Be As Big A Deal As You Think

Whenever I wonder if it was a good idea to quit my job, and finally leave the sordid business of political “consulting,” I read the tweets and postings about things like this business about the Supreme Court’s ruling on corporate donations and am glad I don’t have to worry about such things anymore. It’s way more fun (not to mention easier) to throw tomatoes from the cheap seats than have to actually deal with this crap.
If you’re a legal type, you should read Rick Hasen’s excellent blog about election law for links and details about the legalities. There’s already a lot o’ hollering on the center and the left about the evilness of said ruling, and others who think it’s a blow for Lady Liberty’s torch. I, on the other hand, am not really sure a lot will really change.
However, several reasonable folks suggest otherwise, pointing out that most corporate money in politics is already there in some convoluted form, and that for the most part, while politicians of all stripes can do dumb things, or make decisions we don’t like, the actual cases of “corporate influence” aren’t as common as we might think.
News flash: some corporations give money to anti-tax, anti-regulation politicians because, well…..that would be of benefit to them. It’s not like people are born believing in some one true ideology, and they ONLY believe otherwise because someone made a donation they can’t spend on themselves or their family to their campaign fund. To think so is arrogant.
Plus, we’ve had endless jurisdictions attempt all sorts of complex regulations to try and force an outcome of the electoral process, usually to favor one side or another. And yet, you can go to F*cking Liberal San Francisco, and guess what? Despite endless gimmicks, the leftists couldn’t even put up a candidate for Mayor in the alleged bastion of The Left against a “corporate sponsored Mayor” who had real problems. More to the point – when was it the job of the Constitution (or the City Charter) to ensure only one side wins?
Plus, in the end, you find it’s the little campaigns, who don’t have the money to hire lawyers and accountants to comply with complex laws having the screws put to them, while the big campaigns who have the support of established interests can weather whatever legalisms the hippies come up with. Ironic, eh?
Finally, if you’ve ever worked for a big company, you know that big companies and corporations are very bureaucratic, risk-averse to a fault, and do everything in committee. They’re not really eager to have to put their name on some politician’s campaign, and deal with the fallout if said person loses, or have to deal with an endless line of politicos asking for money from them, with the threat they’ll get hurt if they don’t.
Here’s a simple solution that would adjust to the new reality, and bring back a little sanity to the process. Let’s get rid of complex accounting rules for campaigns and come up with a simple system that requires them to publish online within 24 hours what they took in, what they spent it on (or who they spent it on), and make sure that’s super easy for anyone to understand. No silly games, no hiding sh*t, just be honest. If people comply, they’re cool. If they don’t, they have to return the day’s cash, no bullsh*t.
If an ad is put out by a candidate (web, TV, mail, whatever) they have to post a URL linking back to said disclosure. If an ad is produced by some group of people (any kind), they have to say who they are, and post their money and spending just like everyone else. No more games, no more silly stories about quarterly reports, no more accounting gimmicks where campaigns hold off paying staff so they can say “lookit how much cash I have on hand” (when they really don’t), and if someone is actually dumb enough to take a big bag of loot and change their vote on the eve of some Big Issue, well, we’ll all know and it’ll be up to the voters to make that decision.
It’s times like these I’m glad I no longer have to worry about all of this, and instead will watch a short term burst of cash line the pockets of the people who get paid to produce all of this stuff. Ultimately, no matter who wins on election day, the folks who print the brochures and produce the TV ads get paid anyway, so yay for them.
There are plenty of worse ways to make a living, and for those who enjoy it, at least they don’t have to be producing ads for tooth deoderizer.

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