Thursday, January 21, 2010

Well, now. It's time for me to run for office...

...Time for me to run for office! Get me sum o' dat Big Coal monies!

Maybe it should be a law that for every donation over 100K, the pol has to get the company logo tattooed on his/her face. That way every time they speak, you know who you're really listening to....

For the “smaller” corporate donors, they can paste Nascar-like stickers on their suits and accoutrements.

I understand the principle behind the majority decision, but I really believe it is an overreaction.

I very much doubt the Founders forsaw a time when even local candidates would run on platforms provided by multi-national corporations. Well, that time is now.

The problem began with the PACs. How do you define or even recognize the difference between say, the your "Concerned Citizens of Lantucky" and a FRONT GROUP.

So what they are doing is opening it up for everybody. Simply because it has become impossible to distinguish the differences (and WHO decides which group is kosher????).

I don’t think this will effect large elections at all...

But what about the example of a state representative who gets on the bad side of “Big Whatever”, and “Big Whatever” then buys their own candidate the election?

You can scream 1st Amendment all you want, but in these days of conglomerates, “Big Whatever” is likely owned by people who live outside the state. Not that this hasn’t been happening already and all-over, but this makes it even easier for non-constituents to affect an election.

Some great forum comments from The Volokh Conspiracy:

"What about arguments based on agent-principal issues? The point being that the speech of a company or a union is controlled by a few insiders and will often be weakly — or even inversely — correlated to the views of the stockholders or union members. Doesn’t it seem a little strange to ground the free speech right for a corporation in the collective free speech rights of natural persons who may — and frequently will — disagree with that speech? (While I think this argument is quite strong for companies and unions, it doesn’t apply or at a minimum is very weak for corporations whose principal purpose is advocacy e.g. the Sierra Club or the NRA.)"


"Who is accountable for corporate speech? Not the strawman corporate “person” that is built up as a means of giving (real) people limited liability. The strawman corporate “person” isn’t even accountable to its own conscience, since it doesn’t have one.

The bigger issue for remains the special protections we give shareholders and officers of corporations. To have both those special protections and the privileges usually reserved for individuals tilts the playing field way too far. I would prefer preserving free speech whenever possible, so my preference would be to reduce those protections for shareholders of corporations who choose to engage in political speech. Make them an LLS(peech)C."


"1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition ...

The wording of the First Amendment does not establish a human right of free speech. It places a limit on the subject of legislation. Without arguing whether Freedom of Religion is a human right (people have freedom of religion, churches don’t) it bars legislation that interferes with organized religion. Freedom of the press is clearly an organizational/corporate right. Note that the end does not talk about the right of a person to assemble (one hand clapping) but the right of the people to assemble (an act that by definition can only be exercised as a group). However, in all these cases the text is not about the rights themselves but rather a prohibition on Congress to legislate on certain matters.

Therefore, the actual text that Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech does not limit its application to citizens or even people. The text does not talk about “freedom of people to speak”. Congress cannot pass a law abridging speech. Any kind of speech."


Shareholders of US corporations need not be American citizens or even American residents. So even if you buy the “tool” model that free speech of a corporation is just a pass-through for the free speech of the shareholders, the right to spend money on speech is flowing through in part to foreigners and even foreign governments.

By this standard, the Government of Singapore for example (via Temasek and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation) has greater opportunity for paid political speech in the US than all but a handful of Americans.

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