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Question of the day

Monday, Nov 27, 2017

* The Kankakee Daily Journal has a couple of campaign finance reform ideas

Here’s proposed rule 1: If you give money to Smith, Smith cannot, in turn, give the money to Jones. This happens all the time. Our feeling is that if you donate to Smith, it does not and should not imply that you support everyone else Smith likes. You can donate, or not donate, to Jones on your own.

Rule 2: Campaign funds donated in 2018 must be spent solely on that election. You are supporting Smith now. Smith cannot “bank” money and build up a war chest so deep that no one ever thinks of challenging him or her. Money not spent must be donated to a registered 501(c)(3) charity.

* The Question: Your thoughts on these two ideas? Make sure to explain your answer, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

41 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:29 pm:

    Interesting ideas, don’t see them ever coming to be. But interesting ideas.


  2. - PJ - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:29 pm:

    100% yes. I’m a Democrat, and Democrats have been abusing these things forever, right along with Republicans.

    The way we finance elections is comically broken. This is a start.


  3. - phocion - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    I like both ideas. If there was no way to get around them, they would really open up the ballot to challengers. Which is why they will never come to pass.


  4. - Just Me - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    With #1 they’ll get around this by just giving to the party.

    With #2 they’ll get around this by creating a not-for-profit with themselves or their friends as the CEO, and once the money goes to a private entity you can no longer track it.


  5. - Tom B. - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:34 pm:

    If you read a newspaper article, you cannot talk about it with anyone else. Articles are for their intended readers and no secondary exposure should be allowed.

    Also, there should be no archives. Publishing happens one time and that’s your opportunity to enjoy the content.

    See how dumb that sounds? Why are restrictions of campaign funds and time periods to use funds any less dumb?


  6. - The Captain - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:34 pm:

    Let’s say you want to reduce the dependence of candidates on fundraising and donors, #2 doesn’t help. Incumbents don’t know what potential challengers they may face so they’ll raise money and run scared until they have enough money in the bank to feel comfortable. If you force them to drain their account at the end of every cycle then you have to accept the fact that you’re essentially forcing them to rebuild that nest egg at the beginning of the next cycle. This proposal will only increase their dependence on donors and increase the amount of time they spend on fundraising.


  7. - Anon - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:36 pm:

    We need reform regarding self-funders. Until then, forget everything else.


  8. - Dome Gnome - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:36 pm:

    I don’t see these as the biggest campaign finance problems to tackle.


  9. - Winnin’ - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:36 pm:

    #3 should be:
    No one candidate with a $65 million war chest can blame Madigan for everything, including their own shortcomings.


  10. - Anon - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:37 pm:

    And also - Citizens United.


  11. - DuPage Bard - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:37 pm:

    Thanks Kankakee for making sure that self funders will be the only folks in office going forward.


  12. - working stiff - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:38 pm:

    great logical idea. that being said, i don’t believe it will ever happen. far too many have shown, “logic has no place in government”.


  13. - Perrid - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:41 pm:

    Seems like you could get around #1 by just paying for something, like $15k consulting or something, instead of donating. Not sure how the financing goes, but it seems like that would be a workaround. Also seems, to me, if you supporting Smith and Smith thinks giving money to Jones will help Smith, then it’s working out. As for #2, I think I like the idea, though maybe donors should be able to earmark their donation somehow as either being time limited or not. That would add a lot to track, but not impossible I think. A negative consequence of that would be that politicians need to spend even more time begging for money, since they would not be allowed to save up. So every year/campaign they would start over from scratch. Politicians already spend a lot of time begging rich donors for money, not sure I like that idea.


  14. - Northside Southerner - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:43 pm:

    @Tom B. - I see your point, counter argument is that free press is explicitly protected in the constitution


  15. - Seriously - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:45 pm:

    1. is this only for candidate committees? How do you tell a political party committee or a political action committee who get people to donate that they can’t then support their candidates party candidates or those that support their causes. Basically the only one you are hurting is the individual candidate committee and empowering others.

    2. This incredibly empowers a) large donations b)self funders and c) Independent expenditures. Wealthy candidates can give to themselves unlimited amounts but non wealthy have a shorter window to raise money.

    How does this work in conjunction with Primaries - do you get a 2nd set of limits?

    Both of these ideas push away from candidates having control of their campaigns, the ability to spread their message or defend themselves, and towards outside spending that isn’t limited by the rules and regulations of campaign caps, Inkinds or consulting with candidates. Instead of giving to candidates your just going to end up with 3rd parties running their on campaign for the candidates without a candidates input. How is that better.

    Maybe we should leave campaign finance reform to those that understand campaign finance laws.


  16. - 47th Ward - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:45 pm:

    ===counter argument is that free press is explicitly protected in the constitution===

    According to Citizens United, political money is speech and is also explicitly protected. That is the conundrum.


  17. - ughhh - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:45 pm:

    @Tom B. - I see your point, counter argument is that free press is explicitly protected in the constitution

    and free speech isn’t?


  18. - Sideline Watcher - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:46 pm:

    1. Shorten political cycles. Cut this constant campaigning out. The fact that we never leave an election cycle is what drives up election spending and thus the constant need to raise money.

    2. Publicly finance elections. So self funding doesn’t matter.

    3. Publicize how citizens can look up for themselves how campaign money is spent instead of relying on low information voters to gin up anger at “everyone is corrupt.” Its not hard to do. It’s dang near in real time. Regular folks need to start taking responsibility for citizenship.

    4. Fix Citizen’s United to handle the dark money.

    5. Make Election Day a holiday.


  19. - RNUG - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:47 pm:

    The first proposal is intended to target certain campaign fund brokers who are also politicians … and cut back on their power and influence. Somewhat limits coordinating campaigns / messages. Have to suspect it is aimed specifically at a certain party leader. Normally, I would think this is a good government proposal that should be implemented. But in times like these, I’m saying bit less comfortable with it because it makes it easier for a single wealthy person to world unchecked influence.

    The second proposal definitely favors a wealthy person. Plus it strips away funding that politicians often use to keep their campaign together instead of using office expenses, and takes away start-up money for the next campaign. I guess I would be more comfortable with a cap on how much could be retained election to election, with the excess to be donated to charity … or better yet, to debt relief for the governmental body (state, county, city, school board, etc.) of the seat that is being campaigned for.

    I hope that last sentence makes sense; I was having trouble coming up with the right wording.


  20. - Sideline Watcher - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:49 pm:

    Seriously….

    “Maybe we should leave campaign finance reform to those that understand campaign finance laws.”

    Yep. Populist crap always sounds good….at first.


  21. - Northside Southerner - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:56 pm:

    @ughhh - I see your point, counter argument is that monetary donations are not speech (voting is)


  22. - Just Observing - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 12:58 pm:

    Rule one, more simply put, would essentially prohibit all contributions from one campaign committee to another. Maybe that’s okay.

    Rule two is based on the premise that you are a supporting a candidate now and not necessarily in the future, but some donors do want to protect a candidate in the future. And it also assumes the candidates will just give over the remaining money to a 501c charity instead of wildly spending the money on their friend’s consulting business and hiring their third cousin to do some campaign “work” as a means to get rid of the money while enriching friends, family, and campaign workers.


  23. - Hamilton - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 1:02 pm:

    For #1, we know that Smith gives money to Jones, because it is disclosed. What is more important is disclosure of donors that we don’t know. When a C4, for example, gives to Smith, we don’t know who gave to the C4. A more transparent rule as a first step: when a C4 gives to Smith a gift of $10k, then the C4 must disclose a donor who has given to the C4 at the same amount. I think Harmon has this type of bill registered.

    For #2, it still favors the wealthy. And, we don’t want to further increase the relationship of c3s and politicians, which this rule would do. And for what purpose? How the war chest is built matters – 1,000 donors versus 1 donor is an important difference.


  24. - A guy - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 1:02 pm:

    I’m probably aligned with Smith and Jones on this one.


  25. - Norseman - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 1:07 pm:

    Regarding (1), I would support it if it only applied to candidate committees. When you give to a party committee, you should expect the money to be spread around. If you don’t want that, give only to candidate committees.

    I dislike the 2nd proposal. As said by others, this would increase the already abusive advantage rich self-funders would have in elections.


  26. - m - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 1:12 pm:

    =If you force them to drain their account at the end of every cycle then you have to accept the fact that you’re essentially forcing them to rebuild that nest egg at the beginning of the next cycle. This proposal will only increase their dependence on donors and increase the amount of time they spend on fundraising.=
    Yes.
    =This incredibly empowers a) large donations b)self funders and c) Independent expenditures.=
    and yes.

    Whatever goal the Kankakee Journal has in mind, these proposals would have the opposite effect.


  27. - Responsa - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 1:20 pm:

    #1 is worth pursuing but there will always be a way found to get around it. #2 no. (see below)

    How about we limit/lessen the need for exorbitant campaign funds by shortening the pre-election political cycle and limit not the amount, but the start and duration of online, radio and TV ads prior to elections. This is one way to better assure that not only wealthy people are able to run for office.


  28. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    The first recommendation strikes me as a solution in search of a problem. What, exactly, is the beef?

    On that second recommendation, I can see all sorts of potential for money-laundering shenanigans..

    Contribute to a politician’s campaign committee, then the committee transfers the money to a “non-profit” created by the politician.

    The management overhead at some of those non-profits can be quite high, if you get my drift.


  29. - DeseDemDose - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 1:32 pm:

    Rauner donating 50 milion to himself is bad enough. Nothing in these proposal makes a difference to unknown Billionaires with dark and foreign money that pours into our poisoned and crooked political system.


  30. - Mod Dem - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 1:34 pm:

    Nice idea, but if I am not mistaken campaign $’s may also be used to pay legal fees as a result of a person’s time in office (See Blago). I do think that that has to be pulled into this mix.


  31. - Ahoy! - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 1:41 pm:

    I could go for those new rules. Yes, there would be work around and new 501 c 3’s would get created and there would be tons of abuse of that, but hey if corrupt politicians want to mess around with federal tax laws, who are we to stop them.

    I would rather see some ballot reform measures though. I think looking at the way California has opened their primaries (much like we handle our municipal elections) would be a good start. Independent maps would be another. Those two changes would help our democracy more than the campaign finance laws proposed.


  32. - Shermanite - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 1:42 pm:

    I’ll never happen but I would like to see a limit on the spending tied to the salary of the office being sought. A candidate shouldn’t be able to raise any more campaign funds than what the position sought pays.

    In other words, how can any candidate claim they are “fiscally responsible” spending millions on a campaign for a job that only pays tens of thousands?


  33. - Southside Markie - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 1:44 pm:

    @TomB. Your analogies don’t hold up. 1.
    Journalism is expected to have secondary exposure. That’s why media outlets do follow-up stories. Most people don’t give to a candidate expecting the money to go to another candidate. 2. Journalism is intended to be archived and re-visited. That is why it is often called the first draft of history. When I contribute to a candidate, it’s because of the way I feel about him or her now — not 5 years from now when he or she may be in jail. All that said, these proposals, while well-meaning, are DOA politically, practically and constitutionally. Nothing will change until the Constitution is amended to exempt political contributions from the protections of the First Amendment. And that ain’t happening anytime soon either.


  34. - Lincoln's beard - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 2:27 pm:

    I say we tax all itemized contributions over $150 and use the revenue for a public campaign finance voucher program.


  35. - Signal and Noise - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 2:45 pm:

    Nice thoughts but would not pass muster with the current SCOTUS


  36. - @MisterJayEm - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 2:52 pm:

    No. Both of these proposals make the political parties vulnerable to take-over by a single wealthy donor. Or at the very best, make them even more responsive to the donor class.

    These proposals are a prescription for Raunerizing both parties.

    – MrJM


  37. - Generic Drone - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 3:05 pm:

    Rule #3 Self funders can only match the highest campaign fund.


  38. - 47th Ward - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 3:18 pm:

    More Small thinking from the Daily Journal.


  39. - Michelle Flaherty - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 3:22 pm:

    To follow up on Hamilton, instead of donating to Jones or Smith, I instead now donate to a 501c4 that supports issues that people like Jones and Smith support and now I get the added bonus of my donations being kept secret.

    501c4s aren’t campaign committees so #2 wouldn’t (couldn’t?) apply to them.

    Doesn’t seem like this solves the problem, but good for Kankakee for caring.


  40. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 4:23 pm:

    –More Small thinking from the Daily Journal.–

    I see what you did there.

    You have to admit, Len was progressive in his own way. He took money from any crook, regardless of race, religion or national origin.


  41. - Tinsel Town - Monday, Nov 27, 17 @ 9:29 pm:

    I think I’m gonna form a 501 C3 that Politician X likes, or put a couple of pals of his on the board.

    Funny, I wonder if the 501C3 can donate back to candidates Politician X likes?

    Better yet, establish a limit on what can be spent by all organizations associated with a Candidate. It see how they manage their resources.


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