Albany Democrat Herald: Editorial: A step toward campaign transparency (In the News)

Albany Democrat Herald: Editorial: A step toward campaign transparency

By Editorial Board

Last month, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled in CREW’s favor. In her ruling, the judge said that the federal regulation that allowed the anonymous contributions conflicted with federal statute – and that the law should prevail.

With the midterm elections right around the corner, Crossroads went to the Supreme Court for an emergency stay – which Chief Justice John Roberts granted on Saturday, halting the lower court’s action. But on Tuesday, the full court vacated Roberts’ stay, allowing Howell’s ruling to stand. The order from the high court gave no reasons and did not note any dissenting votes…

Not everyone was celebrating the decision: A piece on The Atlantic’s website quoted David Keating, the president of the Institute for Free Speech, as saying that the decision could result in the affected organizations simply not spending money in the midterm elections. For those organizations, Keating argued, the decision would have the effect of limiting their speech. But the argument strikes us as hollow: These organizations can still spend money on campaigns, but no longer can do so anonymously. And surely the public benefit of disclosure outweighs any discomfort the organizations might endure.

This could be a temporary victory for transparency, however. For one thing, the original case remains under appeal. For another, as Ellen Weintraub, the vice chairwoman of the Election Commission noted, it would be a surprise if clever lawyers weren’t already hard at work looking for loopholes in the case.

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