Thursday, May 10, 2012

Breaking (well, no, not really)! Dover City Councilman announces that big PAC contributors are cowards

Well, if I put it that way it at least makes David Anderson's objection to HB 300 sound ever so slightly less zany than his attempt to portray the legislation as an attack on the US Constitution.

HB 300 comes about as a result of the heavy-handed and highly unsuccessful (just ask me, I helped manage one candidate's campaign who was obviously hurt by her "friends") intervention by the Voices 4 Delaware Education Action Fund in local school board elections.  It is an attempt to make the donors come out of the dark.

As a State law it will probably not pass Federal judicial scrutiny, because 501(c)4 committees were exempt from most disclosure rules well prior to Citizens United.

But it really doesn't matter in terms of Delaware school board elections, because Voices 4 Delaware Education managed the neat trick of spending thousands and probably tens of thousands of dollars to make itself--not the candidates--the issue, and Voices lost.  While candidates in the future may well take the allowable $600 campaign contribution (and I'd do it), nobody is going to be willing to be associated with Voices in a contested election for awhile.  Not if they want to win their seat.

(If I were kilroy, with my copy of Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals by my computer, I'd probably advise Voices next year to endorse the same candidates that DSEA does, and then flood everyone's mailbox with flyers so people will vote against them.  Just kidding.  I think.)

But the crux of David Anderson's contention (it is really too looney-tunes to be elevated to the term "argument" is that the donors to Voices must be protected from harassment for expressing their political views.

David Anderson, Dover
City Council, believes
that Democrats are so
scarey that PAC
donors need to be in
the Witness Protection
We have seen in California that such laws were used to harass, bully, boycott, and intimidate donors to the Marriage protection amendment (I believe it was Prop. 8). They took the list and protested outside of donor’s homes, businesses, and churches. Some donors who were not sufficiently intimidated eventually were assaulted or their jobs threatened. This can happen in Delaware if the majority party gets its way. This is one more attempt to solidify their majority not by ideas but by trying to defund and defang any opposition.
OK, seriatem.

In David Anderson's world it is perfectly acceptable for someone to donate to negative advertising to attack a candidate.  So far so good.

But also in David Anderson's world it is not acceptable for people protest that decision, to boycott a business, or to call attention to a church that may be risking its own tax-exempt status by participating in partisan politics.

Got it.

And because some (how many?) people were threatened or assaulted (which, uh, David, are crimes that can be prosecuted, you know), people who fund attack ads on other citizens must be completely protected from the other citizens expressing their displeasure.


Oh, and HB 300 (which, again, I am pretty sure will not pass judicial review) is intended as a tool by the Delaware Democratic majority to "defund and defang any opposition."

Except, that, uh, David, before Voices the primary PACs funding State and local elections operated under the DSEA umbrella--and those PACs funded Democrats and Republicans both.  Go check the records.  Dick Cathcart, for example, would be amazed to discover he's a Democrat.

Here's the issue, ultimately, that David does not grasp:  the question is not one of constitutional protections, but one of individual and corporate cowardice.  These folks are apparently only willing to voice a provocative opinion if it can hurt someone else, but not them.

Don't get me wrong:  I have defended accepting PAC money from education reformers in Delaware because it has traditionally been the only large-scale source of funds available to candidates not endorsed by DSEA.  And while I don't fear or loathe DSEA, I am unwilling to grant them a monopoly on campaign funding in school board elections.

But we also have to admit that wealthy people and corporations that do not have the courage stand publicly behind their beliefs, their positions, and their candidates are not martyrs to the Constitution.

They are simply cowards and poltroons.

And David Anderson is their apologist.


pandora said...

So David Anderson only likes free markets and free speech that agree with him?

Anonymous said...

You "managed" the campaign Steve? Too funny. I'm sorry, I live in RC, and Joanne didn't knock on my door. But Kenny did! Joanne didn't drop lit at my house. But Kenny did! I got no emails from you asking for my support or seeking volunteers, but I got several from Kenny. What's your campaign "management" style, Steve? Sitting on your ass and blogging? Yeah, blame others for your defeat. I was going to vote for Joanne, but ended up supporting Kenny because he clearly wanted my vote more. BTW, when i went to vote, I was handed a lit piece by one of Kenny's volunteers. But no one was there to hand out Joanne's lit. Blog that.