UC-Irvine’s Rick Hasen is undoubtedly the leading law professor who advocates restricting money spent on political speech (well, it’s between him and Harvard’s Lawrence Lessig). In an interview with Ron Collins that was posted on the popular legal‐academic blog Concurring Opinions this morning, one of Hasen’s comments stuck out:
I would not allow a self‐funded candidate to contribute/spend in the aggregate more than $25,000 on his or her own campaign.
This is remarkable. I mean, Hasen’s general approach of overturning Citizens United and restricting how much anyone can donate to any group that engages in election‐related speech is par for the course on that side of the debate. As is, unfortunately, the exemption for “bona fide press entities” — whatever that means: I’m sure Hasen has balancing tests that distinguish Sheldon Adelson‐owned Las Vegas Review Journal from the blog of Adelson’s Venetian/Palazzo casino — and government‐financed campaigns (yes, the solution to the “money‐in‐politics problem” is to have the government control the money).
But to say that you can’t spend money on promoting yourself for public office… words fail. (This proposal likely wouldn’t even stop Donald Trump, by the way, depending on the specifics of the relevant legislation: most of his personal “contributions” have come in the form of loans that are supposed to be repaid out of the donations that he takes in.)
If the point of campaign‐finance “reform” is to prevent corruption, how is it possibly corrupting to spend your own money on yourself?
Moreover, Hasen goes on to endorse overturning “the part of Buckley [v. Valeo, the 1976 case that heralded the modern camapign‐finance regime] that rejected individual spending limits.” That means that campaigns would be limited in how much they could spend, regardless of how much money they raise in whatever increments from however many donors.
Unbelieveable. Wouldn’t it be healthier for our democracy just to remove all campaign‐donation limits then have instant disclosure of donations beyond a certain threshold? (There needs to be a threshold because of the potential threat of intimidation and harrassment — see, e.g., the fallout from California’s Prop 8 campaign, where disclosure didn’t even make sense in the first place because a referendum initiative can’t be corrupted.)
Let the voters decide how much they care who gets how much funding from what source.