Letting Light Shine On Campaign Contributions

Ezra Klein and Norman Ornstein have taken the GOP establishment as well as the Wall Street Journal to task for their opposition to the proposed executive order requiring the disclosure of political contributions by companies doing business with the federal government. The charge they level is hypocrisy.

They have a point. Republicans, the WSJ and other conservative publications have in the past championed disclosure along with much lighter regulation as the best way to manage campaign contributions, and the current arguments against their advancing against the rule changes have them tripping all over themselves.

So, you have to concede the point to the Progressives. Unfortunately, in their stout hearted defense of leaving no name unpublished they too fall into the hypocrisy trap. In their case, they argue vehemently for sunlight but only want it to shine on a given class of donors, specifically business.

Full disclosure is a wonderful idea in my book and ought to be adopted forthwith along with a wholesale scrapping of most rules limiting campaign giving, so long as it applies to any and all who fork over, say, more than a buck. That means unions, corporations, individuals, 501(c )3s, law firms, NGOs and any other entity that wants to try and buy some political juice. Good for the goose, good for the gander.

The Republicans are wrong to resist the President’s efforts. They should applaud them and call on him to expand the effort to the entire universe of givers. If he chooses to limit the list of those affected then he can be well and fairly accused of merely engaging in cynical political hardball. And Klein, Ornstein and their fellow travelers should explain why they dance around the issue of transparency for all.

Update: Norman Ornstein emailed me with the following comment:

Just for the record, I am for disclosure for all– unions, individuals, corporations. I am against the use of subterfuge like the failure of the IRS to enforce its own regulations on 501(c)4s, and against the Democrats and unions using the same tactics to avoid disclosure as Karl Rove and the Chamber. Absolutely, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Norm Ornstein

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