Michigan Live: Do political donors deserve privacy? Michigan debate takes on anonymous giving (In the News)

By Jonathan Oosting
LANSING, MI — Anonymous contributions are playing a growing role in U.S. politics, but private donations are not always a bad thing, according to Bradley A. Smith, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.
“People have a lot of reasons to want to be private,” said Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and a professor at Capital University Law School. “There are fears of harassment, both government harassment and unofficial harassment from private individuals.”
Smith, who acknowledges that supporting more privacy in political giving is not an immediately popular position, is set to debate Michigan Campaign Finance Network executive director Rich Robinson on Tuesday at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids.
“It’s interesting. When you ask people if they think their own political actions should be disclosed, the polls switch dramatically,” Smith said, suggesting that requiring donors to list their address or job can discourage political participation.

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