Mike Kueber's Blog

August 20, 2012

Living with Citizens United

Filed under: Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 3:59 am
Tags: , ,

Several times I’ve blogged about Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that removed restrictions on the right of right people to advocate for their cause/candidate.  This controversial decision has led to the explosion of super-PACs that is threatening to drown out all other political speech.  Obviously, that is an ominous development, but no one has come up with an acceptable fix.  Suggested fixes are basically two types:

  1. Constitutional amendment.  The First Amendment of the Constitution should be amended to allow the McCain-Feingold restrictions.  That suggestion is problematic because amending the Constitution is hard to do, and the forces that benefit from burgeoning super-PACs will be able to obstruct the change. 
  2. Full disclosure.  Columnist George Will has always opposed limits on campaign contributions as ultimately ineffective and bureaucratic.  Instead he has argued in favor of full disclosure because it is essentially self-regulating.  The current law could be vastly strengthened by requiring broader and prompter disclosure of who is funding the advocacy.  Unfortunately, most pundits believe such disclosure will do little to limit the effectiveness of negative ads being run by super-PACs.

While riding my bike this weekend, I thought of a means to emasculate the power of the super-PAC ads.  Why not require the ads to be preceded by a harsh, ugly warning similar to that put on packages of cigarettes, something like – “Warning, the following message is paid-for by a super-PAC that was formed to advocate for a cause or candidate.  Because it is not formally a part of any candidate’s campaign, it is not subject to contribution limits that apply to campaign contributions and rich people or entities can contribute unlimited amounts.”  Then a similar message could be required at the end of the ad.

Such a warning would go a long way toward muting these organizations.

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