Contemporary politics requires raising lots of money. But that is also a formula for corruption, with elected officials potentially giving pay-back to those who gave them money for their campaigns. How can that be avoided?
One solution, found to be constitutionally dubious, was to strictly limit the amount of money individuals can give to a political campaign. Another, advocated by many conservatives, is to let people give what they want as long as “transparency” is maintained by making public the names of the donors. That way if lawmakers pass bills that enrich certain donors, the bribery would be obvious. So “transparency” has become part of most campaign finance laws.
But this has had an unintended consequence. Donor lists are being used as enemy lists, allowing the government and private groups to go after people who have given money to certain individuals or causes, harassing and punishing donors for their politics and their beliefs. [Read more…]