Saturday, July 21, 2007

News Leader: Court decision restored sanity to state politics

In an editorial in today's edition, the Springfield News-Leader praised the decision of the Missouri Supreme Court to strike down the law that allowed unlimited campaign contributions:

The fix now is simple. While Sen. Charlie Shields, who backed the measure, laments the loss of transparency the bill's supporters claim to have sought, he continues to mix apples and oranges. Stopping the party committees from serving as money launderers was a wonderful idea, and it brought transparency. But there was no appropriate reason to get rid of individual donation limits, and it surely had nothing to do with transparency. The irony is that when we criticized the Republicans who run the House and Senate for getting rid of the limits, they blamed a Democrat for proposing the amendment. That was a convenient excuse, but voters shouldn't stand for it this time.

If lawmakers truly want to defend unlimited giving, let them make the argument. Let them point to the $100,000 donations some of them have been receiving and tell voters why that's good. But don't let them compare the unlimited giving with the rule to keep party committees from serving as middle men. One has nothing to do with the other. Never did.

Missouri's brief window into the world of unlimited campaign spending showed us clearly that big money — make that huge money — is destroying any possibility that the individual still has a voice in how our government is run.

There will be those who continue to claim that any restriction of campaign contributions is an unconstitutional limit on free speech. That has always been nonsense. The people who gave $100,000 still have the right to back whatever candidate they want. They can write letters to the editor, call in on radio programs, put signs in their yards, show support for their candidate in hundreds of way, but the idea that the speech of the wealthy should be worth more than that of the rest of us, is a concept that goes against the principle of equality that has made this country great.

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