Washington Examiner: More campaign finance regulation means less political free speech (In the News)

Washington Examiner: More campaign finance regulation means less political free speech

By Joe Albanese   

If Feingold thinks it’s unfair that some people are able to spend more money on elections, is it also unfair that some people can get more attention without spending money at all?

When ordinary people want to express their opinions alongside those of the powerful, they have to raise and spend money to do it. This doesn’t just mean buying advertising time on TV – even posting an internet video or printing fliers requires buying the right materials and equipment. Pooling resources can be an effective way to enhance the voices of ordinary Americans, but these expenses trigger government regulations when they add up.

Yet, campaign finance law only targets certain types of political participation. Before Citizens United, the Obama administration argued in court (at least for a time) that an organization could be forbidden from screening a movie criticizing a presidential candidate. A celebrity or politician can go on TV to criticize that same candidate, however, and face no such legal obstacles. Luckily, the Supreme Court recognized that 501(c) organizations could be an important way for citizens to join together and speak about politics without needing to hire campaign finance attorneys every step of the way. The rich can hire all the help they need – grassroots activists can’t.

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