Candidates threatened with fake money to ‘reform’ campaigns

March 12, 2009   •  By Jeff Patch
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A fellow traveler in the campaign freedom movement pointed out an interesting ‘Ideas’ piece in Politico by Joe Trippi and Lawrence Lessig. This dynamic duo has created a movement they dub "Change Congress" to get like-minded individuals to explicitly pledge to withhold campaign donations to members of Congress until they agree to implement taxpayer-funded campaigns.

We’ve written about this idea many times before.

So-called reformers believe political decisions are mostly based on campaign donations (rather than other factors that have been empirically proven to drive policy, such as party affiliation, long-held ideology, constituent preferences, etc.). Refusing to concede to reality, Lessig and Trippi have geared up their campaign to bribe politicians with the money of activists until they change their mind.

In the Politico piece, Trippi and Lessig have announced they’ve reached the $1 million milestone. Woo hoo! Break out the champagne! But wait, where is that $1 million?

Trippi and Lessig calculate the figures by relying on those who pledge to report what they donated in the 2007-2008 election cycle. Even if pledgors were entirely truthful about their donor intent (which is doubtful), are we really supposed to believe that after a historic election with robust donor involvement — and in a financial crisis — the same level of contributions will be made in a non-election year?

If Lessig and Trippi were serious, they’d set up a trust fund of sorts for people to donate actual money instead of monopoly ‘reform’ dollars. Then again, if the duo was dealing with actual money instead of monopoly money, it would make their quid pro quo gambit a little too explicit and perhaps irritate allies in the "reform" community (who go ballistic at any suggestion of quid pro quo in any other context).

Ah, isn’t "reform" grand?

Jeff Patch