I’ve written quite a bit about how Democrats are getting more money from Wall Street and K Street than Republicans are. Today on Twitter, Chris Hayes of the liberal magazine The Nation, a fellow New Yorker with whom I often agree about government corruption and lobbying, knocked me for using campaign contribution data, which he said was misleading (presumably because it excludes outside expenditures) and because I was “mak[ing] use of a regulation [I] dislike.”
But here’s the thing: I think politicians should be required to report all contributions (and I would make reporting much quicker — like within 24 hours of getting the check).
On the other hand, I don’t think outside groups should be required to disclose their spending or very much about their identity.
It comes down to this: government shouldn’t interfere with political speech, but it should regulate candidates for office. In other words, campaign contribution disclosure isn’t a regulation on the donor, but on the candidate. Requiring outside groups to file reports and follow disclosure rules is abridging political speech — it could intimidate critics of government and create barriers to entry for small players.