This would be a good thing:
Outside political committees pumped nearly $4 million into the Boston election, most of it to help elect Martin J. Walsh.
But current law does not require those groups to reveal their donors until January. That means voters had no way of knowing, before they cast their ballots, who funded many of the ads that saturated the airwaves during the race.
Galvin, who is the state’s top elections official, said he is working with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance in hopes of passing the law before the governor’s race next year, when outside committees are expected to spend even more money to influence the outcome.
Of course there are opponents:
But David N. Bossie, who is president of Citizens United, the group that was plaintiff in the 2010 Supreme Court case, said forcing the disclosure of donors flies in the face of the country’s founding principles.
“Since the founding of our republic, individuals have wanted to be anonymous, whether it’s in political writing or political donations, and that has been a right of Americans for over 200 years,” he said. “That’s not something I think we should be giving up because some liberal groups in a liberal state want to even further erode the First Amendment.”
Bradley A. Smith, a Republican and former member of the Federal Election Commission, said forcing disclosure could also burden small independent committees that rely on volunteers to manage their finances. And more broadly, he said, he was skeptical that requiring outside groups to disclose their donors would matter much to voters.
“You don’t find many voters who will come in and change their votes based on who has given someone money or even bother to look that up,” Smith said. “I sometimes fear we put too much emphasis on disclosure and think it can do things it cannot do, and then we overlook the potential problems and costs it could create.”
Bossie has refined his argument a bit since here:
Big corporations are the new whipping boys in the wake of taxpayer-financed bailouts, Republican operatives argue. They say chief executives can’t take to the public square to share their unpopular views on legislation without being personally attacked or — worse — dismissed.
“You want to speak your peace without political retribution,” said David N. Bossie, president of the conservative group Citizens United, whose fight to air its video critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton led to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
That would be the ‘I want to say anything I want with no consequences’ argument. For some reason, he uses a more general argument here. Smith’s argument is even stupider. This old Kevin Drum post shows why:
let’s turn instead to Proposition 16, a measure sponsored by PG&E that was billed as a “taxpayer’s right to vote” but, in reality, was a cynical play to use the ballot box to prevent its competitors from expanding. PG&E spent nearly $50 million on Prop 16 and its opponents spent nearly nothing, but it went down anyway. Why? How about “ratepayer rage”?
Fed up with big bills, distrustful of new meters that show higher usage and chagrined by power shutoffs when payments are late, PG&E’s customers sent a vote of no-confidence to the giant utility this week when they rejected the utility-sponsored Proposition 16.
Voters in counties served by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., which spearheaded the measure to deter government-run power providers, rejected the measure by large margins while counties less familiar with the state’s largest electric utility supported it.
The voter was voted down because the people who knew PG&E knew this was a cynical ploy to reduce competition, but what would have happened if they didn’t know it was funded by PG&E? Citizens United was a terrible decision, it’s made even worse when we don’t know who’s giving the money.