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Supreme Court Endorses Corruption

Money is free to buy anything, including the public trust.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruling today apparently overturns more than a century of efforts to curb the attempts of individuals, groups and corporations to buy government favor.

One interpretation I have heard (but not documented in the two references provided below) is that the personal, group or corporate source of donations or ads need not be identified.  The donor/sponsor is free to use any alias.  For example, Al Qaida could fund a TV campaign under the name of Patriots to Save America.  Of course, this is a ridiculous example, but apparently something like this would not violate any law that could exist in compliance with this ruling.

Another example, an anonymous donor could fund ads that promote a candidate making a promise to do something that in fact the candidate directly opposes.  This would force the candidate to spend campaign funds to attempt to correct the misrepresentation, diverting attention and resources from his/her true campaign.  Of course, misrepresentations of candidates is a common campaign tactic, but if the source of the misrepresentations is known there can be political blowback against the candidate that the sponsor of the misrepresentation actually supports.

Two examples of misrepresentation that come to mind are the child and atom bomb explosion ad against Goldwater in 1964 and the Swift boat ads against Kerry in 2004.  The financial resources paying for these ads did become public knowledge and the electorate had the visibility to judge the possible motivation of the sponsors.  In the end, neither of these revelations turned the elections in favor of the candidate who was misrepresented, but the public had the opportunity to make a decision with full disclosure.

Freedom of speech is a great American right.  Responsibility should be an American requirement.  If what I understand about the full impact of this court decision is correct, further court action is required.

Two news references:

Robert Barnes and Dan Eggen in the Washington Post; and 

Adam Liptak in the  New York Times

Disclosure: No stocks mentioned.