Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The antidote to money in politics: knowing its source

After the big U.S. Supreme Court ruling the other day, there were a lot of warnings that American elections are going to be taken over by (gasp!) corporations.

To which I thought: You mean, as opposed to now?

We got PACs. We got hard money. We got soft money. We got "issue" money. We got "independent" money. We got "527" money (don't ask).

Here in Florida, we have the Wild West — a money-laundering scheme in which anybody can put unlimited money into shadowy political committees, to influence elections anonymously.

So although this ruling does create new avenues for special-interest influence, it's just one more weapon.

(Besides, I hate to say it, but it was probably the right ruling. The law that was thrown out went too far, making it illegal for Americans to talk about elections before an election! That pesky First Amendment must apply even to those we don't like.)

Anyway, instead of wringing our hands, I have an idea.

Our best response as citizens would be to become more aware than ever of the role of money in political campaigns — to make it a part of our culture, something that we follow as keenly as sports.

Call it the "Consider the Source" campaign.

If a corporation decides under this ruling to start spreading around its money, that spending itself should become a campaign issue.

The candidates should raise it. The media should raise it. The public should raise it.

Even before this ruling, I was working on a fantasy about a "consider the source" movement in Florida politics.

For example, there is a fellow named Mike Haridopolos about whom you will hear a lot. He will be the next president of the Florida Senate. He also has a variety of these political "committees" that take money from interest groups and then move that money around, usually ending up in local legislative races.

In my fantasy, we pay attention to every dollar that Haridopolos and every other legislator with a committee takes in, Democrat and Republican alike. We track it like sports fantasy-league statistics.

And when we get a pretty postcard telling us to re-elect our own friendly Sen. Smith in our own district, paid for by the "Committee for Florida's Future and Cute Little Puppies," we should automatically know to cry out:

Consider the source!

If the money came from drug companies and nuclear-waste dumpers and electric companies, then the headline should say: "Smith Backed By Drug Companies, Nuclear Waste Dumpers, Electric Companies."

We should teach it in the schools, preach it in civic-club meetings, banner it on the front page, stress it on the air.

In a way, this is advocating even more "negative" campaigning, another way in which candidates and parties attack each other. It also would produce a lot of cynical instances of the pot calling the kettle black. But that's okay. In a contest between Democratic union money and Republican corporate money, at least we would know the score.

If we were starting from scratch, maybe we could write the rules differently. Some people are talking about an amendment to the Constitution — good luck with that.

But in the practical world, the Supreme Court has ruled. Money gets to talk. The only antidote to that kind of "free speech" is … more free speech that calls it out. As they say, knowledge is power.

The antidote to money in politics: knowing its source 01/25/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 25, 2010 10:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shakeup on Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    In a sign of unsteadiness for what  had  looked like a strong-out-of-the-gate Adam Putnam campaign, the Republican frontrunner suddenly fired his campaign manager and political director. Hard-charging Campaign manager Kristin Davis and political director Jared Small were two of the three outsiders to join …

    Putnam campaigning in Destin the other day as part of his 22-city bus tour
  2. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  3. Tampa man arrested for killing man in his USF-area home

    Crime

    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested Monday in the death of man found killed at a home in the University of South Florida area last week, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Kadeem Dareem Archibald, 26, was arrested Monday on a  second degree murder charge in the University Area killing of Khando Kerr. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Report: Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence

    National

    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials.

    From  left, CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers take their seats on Capitol Hill on May 11 before  testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. [Associated Press]
  5. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”