POLITICS & PREJUDICES
Fighting to Know Who Owns Us
Elected leaders, bought and paid for
Published: July 9, 2013
Those opposing truth in advertising, Robinson told me, point to a 1958 case called NAACP v. Alabama, in which a racist state government wanted to drive the civil rights organization out of the state. The Supreme Court said Alabama had no right to demand the NAACP’s membership lists.
Comparing the two is preposterous, Robinson told me. “An angry billionaire who doesn’t want his fingerprints visible on his political spending is nothing like a civil rights worker in the Jim Crow South, and not deserving of the same protection — anonymity — afforded to someone at risk of being lynched. The cowards who invoke that argument are grasping at straws,” he said.
True enough. But how can we ever hope to get the current crop of legislative right-wing, anti-rational yahoos to pass a law calling for full disclosure?
These are cretins who won’t give our citizens universal health care that the federal government has all but agreed to pay for, or fix our roads — and many get shadowy contributions themselves. Rich Robinson thinks we may not have to, that another court ruling may fix the situation.
“I believe the current interpretation of the Campaign Finance Act must be reconsidered,” at least as far as judicial campaigns are concerned, he said. He doesn’t think you can justify any anonymous “issue-oriented ads” in judicial campaigns, for one big reason: “It’s not legal to lobby judges.”
What’s needed, he told me, is for the legal profession to ask for a new ruling on this. “Once we achieve transparency in judicial campaigns, it will be much harder to justify dark money in legislative and executive campaigns,” he told me.
How the Michigan Supreme Court would rule is anyone’s guess, but there’s always a chance they may do the right thing.
After all, there are those who fear that Geoffrey Fieger, say, might flood the airwaves with dark money ads against the conservative incumbents. You just never can tell. By the way, you can check out Robinson’s full report at mcfn.org.
Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.
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