Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: campaign finance

Jan.
23rd

A bigger role for big money in U.S. politics

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

So corporations and unions are short on opportunities to sway elections? Radio and television aren’t saturated enough with vicious hit jobs on the candidates they oppose?

Such is the logic of the U.S. Supreme Court, which shook decades of once-settled law Thursday by striking down crucial limits on corporate “campaign speech” – i.e., campaign spending.

The court’s five-member conservative majority overturned major precedents, a key provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, and much of a 63-year-old law that barred companies and unions from raiding their general treasuries to mount media blitzes for or against specific candidates.

And just in time for this year’s congressional elections. Expect moneyed interests to play an even bigger role in the looming political battles than they had in the past.
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Jan.
22nd

Coming this weekend: SCOTUS on campaign speech, feds on foreclosure rescue

Here’s what we’re working on for the weekend:

So corporations and unions are short on opportunities to sway elections? Radio and television aren’t saturated enough with vicious hit jobs on the candidates they oppose? Such is the logic of the U.S. Supreme Court, which shook decades of seemingly settled law Thursday by striking down crucial limits on corporate “campaign speech” – i.e., campaign spending.

The Goldilocks strategy isn’t working for the American housing market. The Obama administration, in an attempt to provide neither too much nor too little help for homeowners faced with foreclosure, may have done more harm than

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Oct.
25th

Yet another threat to open elections

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

That didn’t take long.

When a federal judge ruled last month that the First Amendment bars disclosure of the petitions that put Referendum 71 on the ballot, he opened the door to a potential gutting of Washington’s open records laws. The gutting is already being attempted.

Some opponents of the state’s new same-sex domestic-benefits law, which R-71’s passage would preserve, are now pressing to go far beyond keeping petition signatures secret. A lawsuit they filed in federal court Wednesday demands that many – probably most – campaign donations also be kept secret. In fact, it insists that the Bill of Rights mandates such secrecy.

The implications of this claim are shocking. If successful, it would crack the bedrock foundation of campaign disclosure laws in Washington and other states.
Both the petition and the donation-disclosure cases have the potential to hide elections in a black box.

If the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upholds petition secrecy on First Amendment grounds, every petition for every initiative and referendum – throughout the country – will have to be treated like a state secret. There will be no way for citizens to independently assess whether elections officials verified signatures properly and lawfully put measures on the ballot.
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