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Campaign Finance

Transparent Statement:
Money will always influence politics. What matters is transparency of the source of the money.

Are corporations people? The Supreme Court has always said they are. Corporations can do pretty much anything a person can, except have a child. They can own property, commit crimes, practice free speech, etc.

Is money a form of free speech? Yes and no. If you are a grassroots movement, you are permitted to express your opinions in any form you choose. Your true power may be based more on the number of people involved than your budget. Having money simply means you can afford to choose more expensive (and presumably wider-reaching) methods to express your opinions. So money is not a form of speech per se. But every citizen has the right to express their opinions.

I am not a fan of the impact of the Citizens United decision in that it opened the floodgates for organizations to spend unlimited money in support of a cause — let's be honest, for a candidate. It does seem like an end-run around campaign contribution limits.

The problem is that the limits on campaign contributions do not prevent wealthy candidates from spending millions of dollars of their own money on their campaign. That puts the wealthy candidate at a significant advantage over a less wealthy opponent. The political parties can also spend unlimited sums of money.

For these reasons, I am willing to accept that money = free speech. But there is obviously still a cause for concern regarding the corrupting power of money in politics. That has always been and will always exist. No matter what laws we create to fix this problem, money will always find a way around it.

My priority is to focus on transparency in politics. It would be nice if politicians themselves were transparent about their opinions too. But at the very least, it should be 100% transparent where all money comes from.

An organization should be required to post the names of anyone who gave more than a nomimal amount of money -- in real time. That does not mean posting the name of the front organization that spent the money on behalf of unnamed individuals, corporations or other organizations. It means the names of those organizations.

A major problem is last-minute expenditures in the final weeks or even days of a campaign, which are often done specifically to avoid such transparency. In those cases, the current penalties for violating campaign laws are barely a slap on the wrist — especially since the political damage is already done. I feel that criminal penalties are appropriate for individuals making the decisions at those organizations and even contributors with significant influence — not fines, but actual jail time.

Steve Rubenstein for Governor | Privacy Policy