Time to Make Political Donations Private

 

After two mass murders, one from a white supremacist and another by an Antifa fan, you’d expect politicians from both sides to ease up on the rhetoric. Instead, they’re fanning the flames. Tuesday, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D–TX) outed constituents who dared give money to Donald Trump.

“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump,” the Congressman tweeted⁩, including information on 44 donors and their workplaces. “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.'”

Castro, the twin brother of Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro, earned support from many other Democrats, pundits, and journalists. Squadmember Rashida Talib (D–MI) endorsed the near-doxxing because “[t]he public needs to know who funds racism.” This, after years insisting any criticism threatens her safety.

Castro insists that it’s all public information and in no way promotes harassment, even as he smeared certain San Antonio businesses.

Public listings of political donations were created to minimize corruption, allowing voters to know which fatcats were funding which candidates. Today, the left regularly weaponizes this data against average Americans, outing retirees and homemakers alongside major corporations.

We’ve long respected the sanctity of secret ballots. With partisan violence on the increase, it’s time we did the same for political donations.

The left loathes private donations, labeling them “dark money” and pushing laws to expose smaller and smaller contributors. No doubt many progressives are worried about corruption but a growing number simply want to harass those who disagree.

This trend emerged in 2014 when Brendan Eich was forced to resign from the tech company he founded because he gave $1,000 to a campaign opposing same-sex marriage. California voters agreed with Eich, but that didn’t matter. He had to go.

Around this time, Democrats in Wisconsin secretly investigated supporters of Gov. Scott Walker, gathering more than a million emails, issuing 29 subpoenas, and placing a gag order on their victims. The state supreme court eventually shut down the star chamber, but not before political activists were punished for exercising their constitutional rights.

The chief argument of “dirty money” opponents is the claim that money buys elections. To disprove this, one needs only to look at the 2016 presidential race. Clinton outspent Trump nearly 2 to 1. If you include allied organizations, Democratic groups still significantly outspent Republican ones. Nevertheless, Trump prevailed.

The very terms “dark money” and “dirty money” portray private donations as inherently bad. Yet in this era of mob justice and personal retribution, privacy is critical for anyone seeking to engage in the political process. Forcing contributors to go public increasingly chills involvement.

Would an up-and-coming lawyer working at a conservative firm want to give money to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood if she knows her political views will be outed to the partners? Would a restaurateur in a liberal community risk donating to the NRA or a traditional religious organization?

We only need to see the pressure campaigns against Chick-fil-A to answer that question.

In a 1995 decision on political speech, liberal Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, “anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.” He was exactly right.

Until privacy is guaranteed by the courts, Castro, Tlaib, et al., need to stop targeting their fellow Americans. After a weekend of massacres, politicians and pundits should be pouring cold water on the fire instead of kerosene.

There are 18 comments.

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  1. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Until privacy is guaranteed by the courts, Castro, Tlaib, et al., need to stop targeting their fellow Americans.

    I think we’re at the point where we on the right have to start doxxing the left.  It pains me to say it (and to use a trite expression), but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander . . .

    • #1
  2. Wylee Coyote Member
    Wylee Coyote
    @WyleeCoyote

    Friendly reminder that Joaquin Castro doesn’t want you to have a gun.

    • #2
  3. Roberto, Crusty Old Timer Member
    Roberto, Crusty Old Timer
    @Roberto

    I think we got at least one donor out there who wishes he had his money back. 

     

    • #3
  4. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Castro insists that it’s all public information and in no way promotes harassment, even as he smeared certain San Antonio businesses.

    What purpose could there be other than to promote harassment, given the timing and selectivity of the information publication?

    In the atmosphere of the commentaries of the past several days, it is a much shorter and straighter line between Joaquin Castro’s publication and concluding that he intends violence against Trump supporters than any line between any of Donald Trump’s comments and concluding that he intends violence against non-whites.

    • #4
  5. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    NAACP v Alabama is your avenue here.  One could probably get an injunction against this reporting going forward and then the campaign finance laws overturned under existing precedent.

    • #5
  6. Vice-Potentate Inactive
    Vice-Potentate
    @VicePotentate

    Stad (View Comment):

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Until privacy is guaranteed by the courts, Castro, Tlaib, et al., need to stop targeting their fellow Americans.

    I think we’re at the point where we on the right have to start doxxing the left. It pains me to say it (and to use a trite expression), but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander . . .

    Why? I don’t want anybody snooping around private citizens or businesses. And what if a nut decides to use the information to do violence? 

     

    • #6
  7. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Compare and contrast Rep. Joaquin Castro to Jackson Cosko

    Lock him (Castro) up. Fair is fair. Justice.

    • #7
  8. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Roberto, Crusty Old Timer (View Comment):

    I think we got at least one donor out there who wishes he had his money back.

     

    According to FoxNews reporting, some of the people on the list also donated to Joaquin Castro’s campaign, and are not happy. They call out Rep. Castro for his ill will and make it clear that they will not be supporting him in the future.

    So we can at least get some satisfaction that Rep. Castro will pay at least some price for his evil stunt. 

    • #8
  9. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    The left will not stop until they pay a price. Not sure the voters on the left will make the pay that price. 

    I think Stad is right. That path leads to civil war.

    • #9
  10. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    I have long thought that all of that information should be as secret as the secret ballot.  It seems a contradiction that I don’t have to tell you for whom I am voting, but you can look up records to find where my donations went.  That should be highly private.  And I know it sounds silly or cowardly or something else, but I know things like this create a chilling effect, as I myself have given less to certain causes simply because I work in a very progressive field, and I just don’t want to deal with it.  Perhaps that is Castro’s intent, though it is absolutely laughable that he doesn’t want people harassed.

    • #10
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Castro insists that it’s all public information and in no way promotes harassment, even as he smeared certain San Antonio businesses.

    What purpose could there be other than to promote harassment, given the timing and selectivity of the information publication?

    In the atmosphere of the commentaries of the past several days, it is a much shorter and straighter line between Joaquin Castro’s publication and concluding that he intends violence against Trump supporters than any line between any of Donald Trump’s comments and concluding that he intends violence against non-whites.

    The decision as to whether this leads to harassment or worse lies with the loopiest fringe of Castro’s political allies. Political fringes are not known to exercise prudence.

    Not all of those people are entirely lucid. Joachim better hope that no one gets hurt.

    • #11
  12. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Jon, I’m glad that you’ve come around on this issue.

    I disagree, mildly, with your suggestion that it’s “now” time to make this change.  I think that the lack of wisdom in these disclosure rules should have been, and was, apparent from the beginning.  I think that the major federal legislation on this issue was in 1971.

    I will admit that your argument may be more effective with people who currently favor the reporting requirements of the present system.

    • #12
  13. Jason Obermeyer Member
    Jason Obermeyer
    @JasonObermeyer

    I think most “Good Government” reforms of the last hundred years, when examined in light of experience and the Constitution, will prove to be mistakes.  This includes some ostensibly Conservative reforms. 

    • #13
  14. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    I used to oppose campaign contribution limits but thought immediate public disclosure of donors was the way to go.  The events of the past decade have convinced me otherwise and agree donations should be private.

    In a world where progressives believe everything is political, including the personal, and nothing is off limits, their strategy to destroy the livelihood and lives of  political opponents calls for this response before they tear our society apart.

     

    • #14
  15. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The left will not stop until they pay a price. Not sure the voters on the left will make the pay that price.

    I think Stad is right. That path leads to civil war.

    Hopefully it won’t come to civil war (I’d rather form to separate countries first).  But the left has forgotten the Golden Rule, the flipside of which is “Do unto others as they do unto you.”

    Oh wait, there’s a third side: “Do unto others before they do unto you.”

    This is what the left does because they think we’re too nice to consider attacking first, much less retaliate.  The times, they be changin’ . . .

    • #15
  16. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    It seems a contradiction that I don’t have to tell you for whom I am voting, but you can look up records to find where my donations went. That should be highly private.

    Good point.  In general, political donations are a strong indicator of how one votes, even if some donate to both parties . . .

    • #16
  17. Jules PA Member
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Clinton outspent Trump nearly 2 to 1. If you include allied organizations, Democratic groups still significantly outspent Republican ones. Nevertheless, Trump prevailed.

    I love this fact. 

    • #17
  18. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Stad (View Comment):

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Until privacy is guaranteed by the courts, Castro, Tlaib, et al., need to stop targeting their fellow Americans.

    I think we’re at the point where we on the right have to start doxxing the left. It pains me to say it (and to use a trite expression), but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander . . .

    I must disagree.  It’s one thing to expose the individuals who have doxxed people.  But to dox the left in general is an endorsement of the tactic.  Nobody should be harassed because of who they voted for or whose campaign they contributed to.

    • #18

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