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Friday, January 22, 2010

The Impact of the Campaign Finance Decision: Two Views

According to a memo by attorney Ben Ginsburg, the Supreme Court decision on campaign finance will have far-reaching consequences:
Unless the laws change, the political party as we know it is threatened with extinction. The parties do several things for their candidates and supporters – raise money and conduct independent expenditures, conduct voter contact programs and describe the party’s position on issues, often through issue advocacy. With the limits on the amounts and sources of funds they can accept, the parties will be bit players compared to outside groups that can now conduct those core functions with unlimited funds from any source.
First, the case does not alter the current ban in federal law, and the laws of just under half the states, that prohibit corporations and unions from contributing directly to candidates. All this means is that they can spend money to speak directly to voters.

Second, 28 states, holding 60% of the nation's population, already allow corporate and union independent expenditures in state races. Yet none of these states is swamped with corporate and union spending, or dominated by special interests in some way that other states have escaped. Indeed, these 28 states, which include such relatively strong economies as Utah and Virginia, are over-represented in the rankings by Governing magazine as among the best governed in the country. Others, such as Oregon, hardly have a reputation as hotbeds of corruption.