Taking another crack at campaign finance reform

Democrats regularly scream about "big money" and "dark money" in campaigns, yet they brought truckloads of such money into Georgia and South Carolina in the last election cycle.  Democrats lost badly in South Carolina, but their money bought them two radical Marxist senators from Georgia.  It's quite clear that whatever efforts have been made to modify campaign finance rules haven't achieved their stated goals.

Rules on large donations to campaigns are designed — in theory — to prevent mega-donors from swaying the election.  But this is a game.  And games always have little ways to "not cheat."  A jump shooter in the NBA can "lean in" to a defender, causing a referee to call a foul.  A fan in the outfield bleachers can steal signs and pass them on to batters.  As AJ Foyt noted, "it ain't cheatin' if you don't get caught."  There are so many work-arounds for Leftist Silicon Valley billionaires that the little Dutch boy hasn't got enough fingers to plug the holes in this dike.  That dam has broken.  We need to consider a different approach.

In my home state of Florida, all elections involve Floridians choosing Floridians who will represent them in various bodies.  Not one person who lives outside Florida has any legitimate interest or proper voice in selecting those representatives.  Period.  So why do we let them contribute money to campaigns in Florida?  It's not their business!

Let's extend this to business contributions.  Why should Amazon, which is based in Seattle, have any voice in Florida elections?  Jeff Bezos is as far from us as you can get in the lower 48.  Why does Florida — or any state, for that matter — want to allow out-of-state businesses a voice in its internal affairs?  Under Citizens United, businesses are allowed to finance political speech, but there's no reason to allow that right to extend to electoral offices in a state that isn't their home.  There is a reasonable argument that they should be allowed to speak on issues that affect their business in Florida, but that's different from supporting or opposing a candidate.

One further restriction should be considered.  If you are contributing to a candidate's campaign, you are engaged in electoral politics.  At a minimum, you ought to be registered to vote.  

Allow me to present a possible state constitutional amendment that incorporates these key principles.

Part 1: No candidate for elective office in Florida or political action committee supporting or opposing a candidate for public office in Florida shall accept any monies not originating from either a registered voter in Florida or business domiciled in Florida.  Since electors for the president are candidates within Florida, presidential campaigns shall be subject to the same limitations.  The penalty for violation shall be triple the funds accepted, and the candidate and campaign treasurer shall be personally responsible.  With regard to presidential campaigns, the presidential candidate and campaign treasurer shall be responsible rather than the electors.

Part 2: Issue advertising shall be subject to the same restrictions, with the exception that businesses with a physical presence in Florida may participate in campaigns related to their business interests.

This proposed amendment would not in any way deal with contribution limits.  That is a separate matter for the Legislature.  It would, however, establish that elections in Florida are of, by, and for the people of Florida.  Imagine what might have happened if Georgia had had such a law.

Ted Noel, M.D. posts on social media as @vidzette and @DoctorTed.

Image: PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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