Their silence is deafening

A recent FEC ruling, highlighted in Friday’s L.A. Times, allows wealthy individuals to contribute to a celebrity’s favorite charity in exchange for having that celebrity appear at a candidate’s fundraiser.

Strangely, none of the so-called "reform" organizations expressed their concern over this ruling.  Here at CCP we wonder why.

Certainly, the so-called "reform" community would have protested if, instead of donating to a celebrity’s charity, the wealthy individual directly compensated the celebrity for appearing. After all, that would be an in-kind contribution. 

But from a candidate’s perspective all that matters is that the celebrity shows up.

So, it seems to us that if "reformers" are concerned about the appearance of quid-pro-quo through direct contributions to candidates or in-kind contributions, then the "reformers" should also be outraged by this ruling.

After all, if a billionaire donates money to charity in order to have famous artists perform at a fundraiser does anyone really think that the candidate doesn’t know who made the whole thing possible? Such powers make the dreaded bundler of recent "reform" rhetoric seem feeble by comparison. 

Similarly, we imagine that the so-called "reform" community would protest, if instead of donating to a celebrity’s charity, a wealthy individual chose to contribute to a caterer’s favorite charity in exchange for the caterer providing food.

So, justifiably or not, the silence of the "reform" community calls into question its true motives.  By not protesting when an FEC ruling has the characteristics of a policy that "reformers" would typically oppose – except that it is believed to primarily benefit liberal causes – some may wonder if campaign finance regulation is about much more than "clean" government.  

Indeed, it gives the appearance (and we all know how much appearances matter to the "reform" community) that campaign finance regulation is covertly about incrementally changing election outcomes in order to rig the game and suppress speech unfavorable to the ‘reformers’ other policy priorities.

We at CCP have no problem with the FEC ruling besides the fact that it does not go far enough, but we are left wondering why the "reformers" stayed quiet.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.