US Supreme Court Strikes Ban on Campaign Donation Limits from Wealthy

Posted on April 2, 2014. Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , |

In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court declared that limiting campaign contributions from wealthy donors was unconstitutional. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/04/02/supreme-court-campaign-finance/4481675/)

The immediate conclusion that people are making is that corporations are now going to take over politics. How this is going to increase the influence of unions is generally ignored.

Let’s get one thing straightened out, right off the top. The lifting of this ban only gets rid of the limitation of how many campaigns can be contributed to. The maximum donation per candidate is still in place.

“Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” the chief justice wrote. “If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades — despite the profound offense such spectacles cause — it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.”

As much as people do not like this, or the Citizen’s United decision, the Chief Justice is absolutely right. We may not like seeing Klan rallies, or Nazis marching down the street, but it is these groups that need the most protection.

Why? Because if we find some excuse to prevent them from exercising their rights, then it becomes easier to strip the rights away from the next person or group.

The primary reason that groups don’t like money in politics is because they fear it will create corruption.

You have to ask yourself, will the lack of money prevent corruption?

Time and again, politicians are investigated, and arrested for corruption. Erstwhile Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was found guilty of trying to sell Obama’s vacated Senate seat. He was trying to make personal gain from it. Was that because of too much money in politics?

Recently, California State Senator Leland Yee was arrested for arms trafficking. Was that because of too many campaign donations from the wealthy?

It’s funny that, back in 2009, the Chicago Tribune ran a piece bragging that it is not Illinois, but Louisiana that is the most corrupt state. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-03-27/news/chi-corruption-louisiana_wittmar27_1_corruption-convictions-tax-assessor-state-pensions)

In the article, they cite several politicians/state employees arrested for corruption (remember, this is back in 2009):

  • The former president of the New Orleans City Council is serving a 3-year federal prison sentence for taking $15,000 in bribes and kickbacks for a parking garage contract.
  • The former chief executive of the state’s property insurance corporation was indicted in December on charges he stole up to $100,000 in public money.
  • The former head of the Louisiana Film Commission is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to accepting $60,000 in bribes.
  • A former state senator is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.

People are weak. People are easily seduced by power and money. No, not everybody, but those who run for office tend to be.

Does the Supreme Court decision make it more likely that corruption will occur? That corporations will flood the system with money to get their person elected? What about the Unions?

Is it corrupt for a politician to try to push a bill backed by a corporation or a union because they donated to the campaign? You may not like it, but is it corrupt?

When cops were on the take back during Prohibition, it was because they weren’t paid enough, and they were supplementing their income by looking the other way.

Again, I ask, is it allowing these campaigns to be flush with money that creates corruption, or is it the politician’s desire to supplement their income that creates corruption? Most House representatives are paid about $174,000 per year. When they started complaining about having to pay for their staff’s healthcare, they complained that most of what they make goes to paying their staffs and running their offices.

Doesn’t it seem like that makes the ground much more fertile for corruption?

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