Washington Post: West Virginians should reject a misguided call for less political speech (In the News)

Washington Post: West Virginians should reject a misguided call for less political speech

By Thomas Wheatley

A 2013 study from the University of Massachusetts, for example, studied the negative effects of public disclosure laws on individual willingness to give and found startling results. “When some citizens believe that their contributions will be posted publicly on the Internet,” concluded the study, “they tend to cut back on donations or not give at all.” Individual citizens are especially cognizant of what the study calls “social influence theory,” and are vastly more likely to be fearful of public backlash in a way corporations are not. In West Virginia, even a $1 contribution is published online for all the world to see. In other words, enacting overbroad disclosure laws to diminish corporate influence in elections – as West Virginia has – may in fact aggravate the disparity…

Second, there’s little evidence that “getting the money out of politics” actually yields better government. Another 2013 study from the Institute for Free Speech, using data from the Pew Center on the States, found “no relationship between a state’s regulation of corporate or union contributions to candidates and the quality of management in a state.” In fact, of the 21 states that prohibited corporate contributions entirely, only three were considered “above average” in state management. Eight were deemed “below average.” Meanwhile, of the five highest-scoring states, three had no limit on election contributions by corporations.

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