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Monday, October 31, 2005

State campaign finance limits

There is an article in today's Star Tribune about upcoming statewide political races and campaign finance limits. Apparently, Governor Pawlenty is probably not going to accept public money and abide by spending limits. On the DFL side, developer Kelly Doran definitely isn't going to. Mike Hatch and Steve Kelley have already said that they would, which will put them at a disadvantage should either be the DFL candidate.

What do I think about public funding and spending limits? Well, I like public funding, since I think we need to make it easier for regular people to run for office. But I have freedom-of-speech issues with campaign spending limits. I think that it is eminently reasonable (and constitutional) to limit expenditures using public property: radio and TV. The public at large owns the electromagnetic spectrum, and we can't make more of it. Thus, it is reasonable to control access to this medium. However, for anything else, like direct mail, Internet, etc., anything goes. If a candidate wants to flood our mailboxes with crap, go nuts. Paper isn't a public good.

Going along with this is a requirement that donations be public and reported quickly. In the age of the Internet, this is not too much to ask. This will allow people to see where the money is coming from; more information is always better.

Will my weird beliefs on financing campaigns ever be put into practice? No. But still, it's nice to dream.


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