This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
We’d gladly trade any number of rules that try to micromanage campaign donations and spending in exchange for one thing: disclosure.
Full disclosure. That means telling the citizens exactly who is paying to buy the ads, mount the attacks and swing the election.
It means not merely naming political committees – which may be front organizations – but also naming the individuals who gave to those committees. It means doing this in real time, as the money shows up in campaign coffers, not letting political operatives keep voters in the dark until after the votes are counted.
Democracy presupposes an informed electorate, and the Internet can now make the electorate more informed than ever. That’s why the aggressive disclosure provisions in a new bill introduced last week by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., ought to be enacted in time for the 2010 election season.
The bill is part of a Democratic attempt to curb the effects of a January U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down longstanding limits on corporate campaign spending. Democrats fear that titans of industry will now pour fortunes into Republican candidacies; Schumer says that some CEOs won’t want the public and shareholders to see what would otherwise have been covert political operations.
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