Opinion

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Two For Thought

Follow the Dark Money

Same topic, different views

By Tim Baldwin

Money has always corrupted politics. America is no different, and it will continue to until we pass better laws (whether through statute or constitutional amendment) to protect our political system. Not all corruption can be eliminated, but there are rules that can be implemented to mitigate and punish the tendencies of corruption.

The Citizens United decision may have ruled that corporate spending for political advocacy is free speech (and thus protected by the First Amendment), but it did not rule that states cannot require politicians to disclose who contributed money to their campaigns and how much, nor did it decide that states cannot regulate how much money persons can contribute to political campaigns, putting every person on equal footing regarding monetary influence.

Seeing how money corrupts politics (and thus liberty), many Americans are pushing for better regulations regarding monetary contributions to political campaigns. Many states, including Montana, already limit political contributions and mandate disclosure. However, the need for these kinds of regulations exists to a much greater degree on the federal level given the natural inclinations for them to be corrupted by corporate money and foreign-national influence. Congress normally resists limiting its own power, however.

They say, “follow the money” to learn of corruption. Well, the states and federal government can make “following the money” easier so people can be better informed and so politicians will think twice about accepting “dark money.”


 

By Joe Carbonari

Where to begin? Let’s try the sandbox. There, “dark” anonymous money can be likened to the big boys. If you are being pushed around or mistreated, physically or psychologically, you ask “who” and “why.” If you do not, you are more vulnerable and have less control of your life.

If I am being attacked, physically or psychologically, by sticks and stones, or words, I want to know the who and the why. I want to protect myself and my beliefs. I do not favor laws that make knowing the who and the why more difficult. The “big boys” do not need, nor deserve, the protection of anonymity. It is dangerous to our wellbeing.

In elections where only a small portion of the eligible voters actually vote, as in our primaries, and where those votes are cast by the most political among us, as in our primaries, the result, on the whole, is representatives who are more politically “invested” and less prone to compromise than the people as a whole. This dynamic is at work in our counties, in our states, and nationally. Dark money is exploiting this by big spending in little primaries.

Backing a like-minded local? OK, but who are you, and why? Attacking an incumbent, anonymously? Even more strongly, I ask, Who? Why?

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