Franken and Ted Cruz on a campaign-finance constitutional amendment

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Sen. Ted Cruz: "This year, I’m sorry to tell you, the U.S. Senate is going be to voting on a constitutional amendment to repeal the first amendment."

Sen. Al Franken is promoting an online petition to collect signatures calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and the more recent McCutcheon case, both of which shrunk the constitutional authority of Congress to regulate campaign finance.

The petition is linked to his reelection campaign and has to be viewed in that context, although Franken has also been a frequent critic of the Supreme Court rulings that have struck down various elements of the post-Watergate campaign finance regulations based on the twin Supreme Court principles, unpopular with most lefties, that are often abbreviated as “money is speech” (meaning that money, including campaign contributions and money spent to influence elections, including spent out of official campaign committees) is protected by the First Amendment and “corporations are people” (meaning that corporate spending to influence campaigns are substantially protected as well).

In statement asking for signatures on the petition, Franken said that “Citizens United gives big corporations an unfair advantage — and makes it harder for progressives to fight for real change.”

Franken’s petition doesn’t say so explicitly, but his office confirms that the drive is linked to a particular proposed constitutional amendment, of which U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico is the chief sponsor and of which Franken (and also Sen. Amy Klobuchar) are among the co-sponsors.

The text of the proposed amendment is here. It says that in the name of “advanc[ing] the fundamental principle of political equality for all, and … protect[ing] the integrity of the legislative and electoral processes,” Congress has the power to regulate campaign contributions in federal elections and states have the same power in state elections.

All of the sponsors are Democrats. Republicans are pretty much united in opposition. Given that a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Congress and then ratification by three-fourths of the states, the Udall amendment won’t be advancing very far any time soon.

But the Dems, who do still control the Senate, have announced that it will come to a vote within the next month or two. It recently was the subject of a committee hearing in which the leaders of both Senate partisan caucuses — Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — testified for and against the amendment, respectively.

Sen. Al Franken
REUTERS/Eric Miller
Sen. Al Franken

The text of the Constitution makes no mention of campaign finance. The laws enacted in the 1970s assumed that Congress had substantial power to regulate campaign finance.

Citizens United and McCutcheon were both decided by relatively recent 5-4 rulings. The groups behind those cases are working on additional challenges that they hope will lead to more restrictions on campaign-finance regulations.

The Udall amendment would overrule the Supreme Court. There have been previous constitutional amendments that were adopted to overrule Supreme Court decisions, such as the 16th Amendment, which constitutionalized the federal income tax after the Supreme Court had ruled that no such tax was permissible.

Anyway, as I mentioned above, given the current two-party divide, it’s almost unimaginable that the Udall amendment will become part of the Constitution. But the thing that made me want to write about it was the video below featuring Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas  — a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School and former editor of that school’s law review, a former U.S. Supreme Court law clerk and former solicitor general of the state of Texas. In the video, Cruz shocks an audience by telling them, with reference to the upcoming vote on the Udall amendment:

“This year, I’m sorry to tell you, the U.S. Senate is going be to voting on a constitutional amendment to repeal the first amendment.”

Cruz also says that the amendment (you can find the text of the amendment in the link above) “would give Congress the plenary power, the unlimited authority, to regulate political speech.”

That last — that allowing Congress to regulate campaign finance amounts to unlimited authority to regulate political speech — is a pretty big stretch, although I can grasp the argument. But just for the record, the First Amendment establishes freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances, and bans the the establishment of an official national religion.

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Comments (38)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/06/2014 - 10:09 am.

    This is the perfect issue

    to differentiate the ideology of the Al Frankens of this world versus the Ted Cruzs of this world.

    Al Franken wants congress to have more control over your political speech. He’s upset because SCOTUS shrunk the authority of Congress to regulate it.

    Ted Cruz wants more political speech, not less. He wants government to have less power over the 1st Amendment, not more.

    The irony is that Franken’s rich Hollywood friends have stuffed his campaign war chest to 2-3 times that of his likely republican opponents, who aren’t complaining by the way, because they believe in free speech.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/06/2014 - 12:05 pm.

      How do you value speech?

      Of course, Mr. Tester’s argument assumes that money equals speech. This experiment may help determine relevant value: go to any campaign and tell them you have 2 envelopes: the first a 100,000 word manifesto on the issues facing the candidate and why you support that person. Carefully researched, documented and written with fine craftsmanship. In the second envelope there’s just $100,000. As soon as Mr. Tester finds a taker for the manifesto we can begin to give some credibility to his argument.

    • Submitted by David LaPorte on 06/06/2014 - 01:53 pm.

      It’s nonsense to suggest that Franken is regulating MY speech

      I am neither a corporation nor a 1%er. Franken is simply trying to restore the principle of one-person-one-vote. Our current system gives the most power to those who have the most money. That’s not my vision of democracy.

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/10/2014 - 10:09 am.

      Poppycock, Balderdash & Shinola

      Ted Cruz wants what, again?
      A Fairy Tale Tapestry woven by Mr Cruz, of course.

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 06/06/2014 - 10:27 am.

    Hard to believe

    that Cruz is talking about the amendment I just read. Among other things, the proposed amendment makes no reference to regulation of a church’s tax exempt status, which I assume is what Cruz refers to when he speaks of pastors ‘speaking the truth’ from their pulpits.

    It’s unfortunate that the senator chooses to use his obvious intellect to mislead rather than educate.

  3. Submitted by Eric Snyder on 06/06/2014 - 11:18 am.

    Cruz – the consummate demagogue

    1) “The US Senate is going to be voting on a constitutional amendment to repeal the first amendment.” And a bit later “41 Democrats have signed on to repealing the first amendment.”

    Objectively false as stated.

    It rests on the fallacy of conflating what is currently constitutional (some arrangement of legal campaign spending and donations)—a matter of case law or judicial decision—with the Constitution itself. A second error is hoisted on top of the first one by mistaking what is true for a part of something is true for the whole: Repealing Citizens United (again, mistakenly conflated with the 1st amendment itself) means (fallaciously) repealing the WHOLE first amendment.

    But in this brief clip Citizens United isn’t even mentioned. To do so might introduce cognitive dissonance since some members of the audience will likely agree with repealing Citizens United. One poll found a solid majority of small business owners opposed to Citizens United:

    In another poll 72% of Republicans opposed it:

    Cruz is no doubt aware of these numbers. Smartly but deviously Cruz therefore shifts the frame of the underlying debate about Citizens United—that is, the debate that actually deals directly with the issue of unlimited corporate money in politics—to free speech.

    Cruz continues…

    2) “The Senate Democrats are scheduling a vote to give congress the plenary power, the unlimited authority to regulate political speech.”

    If you restrict your definition of “political speech” to only money in politics, then Cruz is correct, but only partly so. The Democrats aren’t arrogating “unlimited” anything to themselves, but are only hoping to get rid of Citizens United.

    If your definition of political speech constitutes, well, actual speech in print or verbal, online or in tradition media like magazines and newspapers on on television, then the Democrats are clearly not intending to regulate any political speech at all.

    3) “Because elected officials have decided that they don’t like it when the citizenry has the temerity to criticize what they’ve done. They don’t like it when pastors in their community stand up and speak the truth.”

    Cruz here invents a malicious motive for the Democrats and then ratchets up the alleged Democratic overreach by appealing to a culture war script of “We, the good Christians speaking Biblical truth about homosexuality, etc.” vs. those others—secularists, liberals, those supposedly hostile to faith, apostates who have abandoned the one true faith, etc. With this particular quote he’s well into saying anything he thinks will press the buttons of his audience the hardest.

    4) “It explicitly says nothing in this new amendment shall abridge the freedom of the press. So, the NYT is protected.”

    Cruz is obviously appealing here to the hard right’s distrust of the New York Times, thus creating further suspicion that the real purpose of this amendment isn’t what it says it is, it’s all about consolidating the power of liberals as well as Democratic in congress.

    5) “But it doesn’t say the same thing about freedom of speech, it doesn’t say the same thing about religious liberty. What it says is that politicians have the unlimited constitutional authority to muzzle each and every one of you, if you’re saying things government finds inconvenient.”

    Out and out scare tactics here detached from any honest or real reading of the proposed amendment.

    There’s an undeniable streak of dishonesty in Cruz, even a compulsive dishonesty if you take other public statements of his into account. There’s an obvious willingness to say anything for the right political effect.

    Should we wonder why the conservative movement is awash in conspiracy theories, paranoia, and readily falsified views of the world? Could Cruz’s political base be any more easily manipulable, such easy dupes for street corner propaganda?

    Mr. Tester apparently found it a wonderful speech.

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 06/06/2014 - 11:20 am.

    More than unfortunate

    Mr. Cruz’s tendency toward right wing, fiction-based demagoguery is in plain view in the video.

    While I’m not sure it’s the “perfect” issue to illustrate differences between Mr. Franken and Mr. Cruz, I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Tester’s implied assertion that such an amendment would provide an opportunity to do so.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Tester’s additional assertion regarding Mr. Cruz’s desire for “…more political speech, not less…” would be laughable if it were not so sincere. Mr. Cruz and his political allies likely DO want more political speech to take place – but only from a rather small, select group of speakers, who tend rather strongly toward significant wealth, demonstrated faith in an ideology that places corporations above humans, and a conviction that wealth and corporate flattery somehow represent a “conservative” viewpoint.

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/06/2014 - 12:18 pm.

    At what point

    do we call someone who knowingly makes false statements a liar?
    And should we amend the Constitution to make lying in Federal office an impeachable offense?

  6. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 06/06/2014 - 12:34 pm.

    Just what we need – more regulations

    I hope Al Franken campaigns for this constitutional amendment at every campaign stop in MN and at his constant out-or-state fundraisers with the upper 2% types.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/06/2014 - 04:01 pm.


      The Constitution as amended is not a ‘regulation’; it is the basic underlying set of assumptions of our legal system.

      The fact that you cannot come up with a reasoned argument against this change (it would NOT be an additional ‘regulation’) supports Sen. Franken’s proposal.

      And Ron — where do you think that the Republican National Committee and its pet PACs get all the money that they pour onto Minnesota at the last minute?

      • Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 06/06/2014 - 04:59 pm.

        Run on it….

        SC amendments and decisions provide the basis for all sorts of “regulations.”

        Paul – a reasoned argument against this amendment is called “freedom.”

        The RNC gets its money from the same type of organizations that Al Franken (and groups) get his money. I just hope the GOP receive more of it and thus has more speech.

        As I stated….I hope Al Franken campaigns strongly for this constitutional amendment across MN. You should hope so as well. I can see the bumper stickers…”Al Franken wants to restrict your right to speak.”

  7. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 06/06/2014 - 05:21 pm.

    Campaign Finance Regulations

    With the way that CFR has been abused over the past few years, I wouldn’t give any more power *whatsoever* in the hands of the government. And if liberals want some credibility on this issue, they could protest against the big spenders on their side too. (I won’t hold my breath…)

  8. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 06/06/2014 - 05:29 pm.


    You know who else opposes this amendment? The ACLU.

    “Democrats pushing for a constitutional amendment that would give government the authority to regulate political spending by outside groups will do so without one traditional ally at their side.

    In a letter submitted Tuesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union expressed opposition to the amendment, saying it would “lead directly to government censorship of political speech and result in a host of unintended consequences that would undermine the goals the amendment has been introduced to advance.”

    But what do they know about first amendment issues anyway, right?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/06/2014 - 08:23 pm.

      The ACLU

      is consistent on principle,
      which is why I’m a card carrying member even though I sometimes disagree with their positions on specific issues.
      They set a very high bar for limiting speech on the grounds that it presents a danger or offends community sensibilities.
      If the First Amendment were an absolute, we wouldn’t need the next 25.

      • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 06/07/2014 - 07:14 am.

        First Amendment

        “If the First Amendment were an absolute, we wouldn’t need the next 25.”

        I’m inclined to disagree with you here. The Fourth Amendment, for instance, seems to cover different ground than free speech. Maybe you could expand on this, because I might be missing something here.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/07/2014 - 09:52 am.

          You are correct

          My statement was far too broad.
          Were it not for other amendments, for instance, most of us would not have the right to vote.
          Let’s just say that the First Amendment -as written-

          (“AMENDMENT I
          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”)

          simply prohibits -Congress- from passing laws in certain areas.
          It says nothing about States or municipalities
          so it is far from an absolute guarantee of free speech.

          • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 06/08/2014 - 01:17 pm.


            The First Amendment has been incorporated for some time now. Arguably it should have been earlier, but it certainly is now.

            We should be moving towards more absolute guarantee of speech, not away from it. I honestly don’t understand why liberals don’t understand the dangers of having your speech policed. Is it that you think the ‘policers’ will always be on your side or something?

            • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/09/2014 - 09:59 am.

              When have the police

              limited your speech (beyond yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre)?
              The Constitution concerns only governmental activities (originally the Federal government; the Supreme Court extended it to the states). It does not extend to social pressure or economic consequences — are you suggesting that it should?
              If I criticize statements that the Koch boys make, am I abridging their free speech, or exercising my own? Do you really want to cross that bridge?
              ‘Freedom’ is far too vague a term to form a basis for law without qualifiers.
              It has at least six discrete meanings.

              • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 06/09/2014 - 01:03 pm.


                I was obviously talking about people who would ‘police’ the rules. Are you unfamiliar with that phrasing? I don’t think it’s that obscure but maybe we just travel in very different circles. (In fact, there is a recent spate of actual police forces seizing cameras from people, which is arguably a violation of their first amendment rights.)
                Yes, I know that the Constitution only deals with government censorship (which I argue the proposed amendment would increase). But free speech, while related, isn’t ONLY concerned with government actions. I *do* want a world in which more people can speak their minds freely without serious consequences. We’re better off in a world of greatly diverse opinions and some great freedom to express them. We’re losing that and we’ll be worse off for it.
                This is a bit off topic from the CFR arguments though. I was talking more about what a commited pro-life worker at the IRS could do with confidential tax info from Planned Parenthood or something similar. Or if a Republican group tries to tie up a Dem governor with a never-ending John Doe investigation over nebulous connections with a left leaning group. Maybe then you’ll understand the dangers that you’re so confidently advocating.

                • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/09/2014 - 05:34 pm.

                  Many points

                  Yes, I’m familiar with the metaphoric use of ‘policing’. However, as your use of the term becomes metaphoric it strays from Constitutional guarantees.
                  I agree on the social desirability of open (as opposed to ‘free’) speech. Again, though, it must be consensual. We’re talking about a society’s mores now, not its legal structure.
                  And I agree with you about the practice (supported, I believe, by municipal ordinances) of police trying to avoid having their actions recorded. I’d regard this as a violation of the system of checks and balances built into our governmental structure. I’m not sure that making a permanent record itself constitutes speech. Sounds to me more like a due process issue: the fifth amendment, and possibly the fourth.
                  BTW — what is your opinion on the practice of police seizing property (‘forfeiture’) as a source of income?

                  As far as Republican legislators trying to tie up Democratic executives with never ending investigations; I think we’ve been there.
                  And I was alive and aware during the fifties; another case of investigative actions by a Republican legislator, so yes, I know it cuts both ways.
                  But specifically, what -dangers- am I advocating?

                  • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 06/10/2014 - 03:57 pm.


                    To answer your midpoint, the whole forfeiture thing seems to descend into simple graft. Maybe if it was set up so that property was only taken after full sentencing and exhaustion of appeals but as it is now, it’s horribly prone to abuse.

                    What dangers are you advocating? You’re suggesting that we trust a bunch of people to make the finepoint decisions on what and how much we can say when it comes to politics. This same bunch of people has an incredible vested interest in how much can be said about *them* and they’ve shown that they won’t hesitate to try and stop others from talking about them.
                    The Citizens United case was about a small group that made an anti-Hillary movie but couldn’t show it because it was too close to an election. How asinine is that? That the closer we get to an election, the closer we come to a time when people are really paying attention, the *less* speech should be allowed. That is completely, obviously, against the spirit of the First Amendment.
                    And yet it was a key provision of McCain-Feingold.

                    What will count as ‘compensation’ under the Udall amendment? Just money? How about time? If union members act as volunteers for campaigns on election day, is that compensation? Would it be under an anti-union leaning administration? (Why not? This administration hasn’t been shy about striking out at its political foes.)
                    We keep hearing politicians suggest that Fox News shouldn’t be protected as ‘media’. Will some future administration (or its minions) pick and choose who gets protected that way? Or is media just newspapers and news-shows on the traditional networks? Will the media protection bit only protect accredited media? And if so, who decides who makes the grade? Right now, those decision are being made by people that are friendly to the left, and it shows. What if that isn’t the case?

                    The very best way to protect free speech is to simply have some bright line rules and allow almost all of it. (I have no problem with limitations for fraud or libel.) The more complications you throw in there, the more the rules will be abused to aid the powers that be. History, both ancient and recent, shows that to be the case.

                    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/10/2014 - 06:50 pm.

                      The justification

                      for limiting political claims just before an election is that there is no opportunity to refute them.
                      I wish I lived in a world as simple as yours; one where money did not enable some people to have more effect on elections than others. Lacking this utopia, I’d rather keep the playing field reasonably level.

                      You’re still not being specific about which individuals or groups I an designating (‘advocating’) “…to make the finepoint decisions on what and how much we can say when it comes to politics.”
                      ‘Citizens United’ is about the amount of money that anonymous third parties can donate to political campaigns; it has nothing to do with what individuals can say.

                    • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 06/11/2014 - 07:25 am.

                      Who Sets the Rules

                      By the terms of the amendment, the rules would be set by Congress, right? I’m guessing that they would rely on some sort of admin group like the IRS to work through those rules. That’s pretty SOP. The IRS and others are completely untrustworthy to make those distinctions.

                      “I wish I lived in a world as simple as yours; one where money did not enable some people to have more effect on elections than others. Lacking this utopia, I’d rather keep the playing field reasonably level.”
                      I’m not talking about some high level theoretical world here, I’m talking about abuses that have happened in the past couple of years. In fact, if anything the simplicity is on the side of those who don’t think that there is a level playing field right now. It’s not like GOP groups outspend Dem groups by 10-1 or anything like that. If I recall, in 2012, GOP groups did spend more money but the split was something like 52/48.
                      And the idea that the side that spends the most automatically wins is seriously flawed. Just last night the GOP House majority leader lost an election in which he outspent his little known opponent by a vast margin. In local terms, a GOP candidate could outspend someone like Keith Ellison by millions and still have no hope of winning in a deep blue district.
                      Money fears are wildly overblown.

  9. Submitted by Jeff Norman on 06/06/2014 - 05:49 pm.

    heart of the matter

    Cruz was being hyperbolic when he said the amendment would repeal the First Amendment, but it WOULD give Congress UNLIMITED authority to regulate what’s spent on expressing ANY opinion that might somehow influence elections. So in effect, it would repeal the First Amendment as we know it. I invite anyone who disagrees to specify what limits there are.

  10. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 06/07/2014 - 12:50 pm.


    I’m disappointed the Al Franken is touting this amendment as a cure to Citizen’s United and McCutcheon. Having an amendment authorizing Congress to regulate “political contributions” begs the question of what exactly are “political contributions” and sets the stage for a totally needless confrontation with the First Amendment. A Supreme Court construing it would undoubtedly side with the First Amendment. This proposed amendment would likely resolve nothing.

    Citizen’s United was a bad decision which expanded a previously bad decision in Bellottii decided in the 1980’s acknowledging that corporations had rights of free speech. These two decisions built on a century of another bad decision the Santa Clara County v. Railroad Co. decision that ruled “corporations are persons” under the 14th Amendment (and the 5th Amendment). Better to have a separate constitutional amendment that repeals at least the part extending First Amendment protections to nonhuman legal entities.

    McCutcheon and Citizens United are also transmitters of another bad precedent. Buckley v. Valeoheld that money expenditures are speech for purposes of the First Amendment. That meant campaign finance laws are examined under a “strict scrutiny” or “compelling interest” standard as they were in Citizen’s United and McCutcheon. Buckley v. Valeo along with the decisions which follow it need to be overturned. IMO, that would require a separate amendment to establish that “money” which Congress has the authority to regulate is not “speech” so any law controlling the expenditure of money is not an abridgement of the First Amendment right of speech or thought.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/07/2014 - 08:52 pm.

      Allowing congress to dictate

      how much money can be collected and expended to advance or broadcast political speech is no different than attempting to dictate how many barrels of ink a newspaper may buy to publish it.

      All campaign finance laws are inherently a violation of the 1st Amendment. “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/08/2014 - 10:29 am.

        Short form

        The First Amendment deals with content, not quantity.
        Campaign finance laws do not abridge WHAT you are allowed to say (we have libel laws for that).
        They simply limit how much one person (real or corporate) may spend to buy an election.

        • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/09/2014 - 07:29 am.

          If the government only allowed

          you to read 249 pages of a 250-page book, you’d soon see that quantity matters as well.

      • Submitted by Richard Helle on 06/08/2014 - 11:53 am.

        Barrel of ink?

        Campaign finance laws are a violation of the first amendment the same way owning a baseball team prohibits one from going to a baseball game.

      • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 06/09/2014 - 08:54 am.

        “All campaign finance laws”?

        Even the Supreme Court didn’t find “all campaign finance laws” unconstitutional.” If all campaign finance laws were a violation of the First Amendment, why wouldn’t laws prohibiting influence peddling and graft be unconstitutional as well?

        I mean, why should it be against the law to pay a member of Congress to for “representational services” in connection with some government contract or bid? or to help a US Attorney see things more sympathetically from an accused donor”s point of view in a criminal proceeding? What could possibly be wrong with using one’s money to buy a little influence in the outcome of some “proceeding, application, request for a ruling or other determination, contract, claim, controversy, charge, accusation, arrest, or other particular matter in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest, before any department, agency, court, court-martial, officer, or any civil, military, or naval commission”? Isn’t that free speech too?

        • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/09/2014 - 01:53 pm.

          Influence peddling and graft

          are fraud and can and should be prosecuted. Receiving or spending unlimited amounts of money on a political campaign does not constitute fraud. It represents freedom of speech.

          If you believe your representative to be a crook, you should work to remove him from office.

          • Submitted by jason myron on 06/09/2014 - 03:38 pm.

            Considering that the vast majority of political advertising

            contain misinformation and outright lies, I think that fraud is a legitimate concern.

            • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/10/2014 - 07:50 am.

              The role of the broadcasters

              Perhaps the broadcasters should refuse to run any ads that don’t pass a simple accuracy test. For the kind of money they get per ad, that’s something they could do to contribute to the process.

              For example, Al Franken’s latest ad says “I passed legislation to …” No you didn’t, Al. Individual senators don’t pass legislation. The wording was chosen purposely to convince low-information voters that he has more power to get things done than he really does. If I was a broadcaster, I would have made him change that script.

          • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 06/09/2014 - 03:49 pm.

            Obviously then, the 33.8 of the MN legislature that is comprised of women should be immune from such chicanery?

          • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 06/10/2014 - 09:06 am.

            Corruption not fraud

            You are right to say receiving or spending unlimited amounts of money on a political campaign does not constitute fraud. A member of Congress receiving unlimited amounts of money or spending unlimited amounts of money on a member of Congress for the purpose of placing the private interest of the spender or the receiver above the public’s or nation’s interest is called corruption. Fraud has little or nothing to do with what makes this conduct a crime. Which is not to say that part of the corruption is in concealment of it from the public.

            Campaign finance laws are aimed at removing the corruption inherent in spending or receiving unlimited amounts of money for so-called political purposes. At some point, receiving or spending unlimited amounts of money which is received or spent on a politician is not for “political purposes” but for corrupt purposes. Campaign finance laws are legitimate means of defining when expenditure or receipt of money, directly or indirectly, becomes corruption. That’s not an abridgment of free speech.

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