“We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment,” Clinton said, throwing a populist hook to go along with the jabs she took at Wall Street during the same event.The kiddie corps at Vox attempt to construe such an amendment in such a way that it does not trash the First Amendment.
The problem, as campaign finance reformers see it, is that for decades the Supreme Court has defined speech too broadly and corruption too narrowly. It has ruled that laws capping how much an individual or group can donate to a particular candidate are acceptable, because they help prevent corruption. However, overall caps on the amount any candidate or corporation spends on elections are unconstitutional, because they muzzle speech without specifically preventing corruption. (The court's narrow definition of "corruption" has consistently been disputed by some justices in the minority.)Let's focus on the real problem. Corruption is infinitesimal relative to rent-seeking.
So the Democrats' proposed constitutional amendment specifically says that both Congress and state governments can limit the "raising and spending of money" meant "to influence elections." It lists several rationales for doing so — advancing "democratic self-government" and "political equality," and protecting the "integrity" of the political process. However, it only says that "reasonable limits" are acceptable — so if the amendment is ever enacted, there would undoubtedly be court battles over which restrictions are reasonable or unreasonable.
And thus, there is no such thing as "unaccountable" money in politics. Yes, rich people might be able to secretly allocate cash to organizations, but doesn't the mission statement of the organization that either makes the campaign contribution or produces the attack ad make clear precisely what rents are to be sought?
Vermont's Bernie Sanders recognizes this point, even though his policy preferences generate their own rents to be sought or dissipated. "Clinton's money comes solely from Wall Street and other fat cats, with Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan at the top of the heap; Sanders' money comes solely from unions, except for two teachers' groups and the American Association for Justice."
I wonder how the women of the fevered brow (their mission statement moves them into the feminazi category) at Emily's List like being lumped in with the fat-cats, even if the lumping is being done by a lefty woman.