Jim Rubens has lost, but the discussion of Mayday politics will continue. The issues it raises for progressives were raised to a new level of visibility by the news that the PAC was working with Stark360 , a New Hampshire organization that opposes campaign finance reform and is generally hostile to progressive objectives. Professor Lessig replied to critics with a clear and thoughtful defense, denying that he was “compromising” on fundamental commitments. He was not, he stressed, collaborating with Stark360 on anything on other than the election of Jim Rubens, and it was a strength, not a weakness, to join with adversaries in the search for “common ground.”
But it seems that this reply confuses the issue. That Professor Lessig means to advance the cause of reform, and that his joint venture with Stark 360 was launched (on his part) for that purpose alone, is not to be doubted. As in all matters political, however, the means chosen have consequences, and Professor Lessig underestimates the burden he carries to establish for progressives that the means are well fitted to his ends. In this case, in New Hampshire, he has yet to make the case.
Exploiting the political process for personal gain will not be tolerated, and we will continue to pursue those who commit such illegal actionsMr. Kent Sorenson was indicted and now has pled guilty in a matter involving falsified campaign finance reports. One campaign paid him to switch his support from another, and the compensation was routed through other vendors to the campaign to conceal money paid for his changed candidate preference. His guilty plea covers the federal reporting violation and the obstruction of justice committed when he denied publicly that he had been paid for his switch in allegiance and asserted that anybody who doubted him could simply consult the campaign’s reports where they would not find any such compensation.
Acting Assistant Director in Charge of FBI Field Office, on the Sorenson Indictment
As a straightforward reporting offense, Mr. Sorenson's case is of limited interest. But another question, presented squarely by the comments of the senior FBI official, is whether the criminal laws reach compensated political endorsements that are openly disclosed. Is it true, as this official suggests, that it is a crime to "exploit the political process for personal gain” in this way? Or that it should be?
- The Trend in Argument and Opinion in the Perry Case—and a Tale of Two States
- “The Criminalization of Politics”
- The Contribution Limits As We Have Them, and the Varieties of Reform
- “Stop this Inanity”
- You Should Talk to Your Kids—As long As You Are Not Engaged in Illegal Coordination
- Politicians: The Good , The Bad, and The Corrupt–and their Different “Constituencies”
- Political Spending and its Apparent Consequences
- Campaign Finance Reform and the GOP: An “About-Face”?
- Taking Issue with the Reform Establishment over Progressive Politics and Coordinated Issue Advertising: A Reply to Larry Noble
- More on the Mann-Corrado Brookings Paper: the Resistance to Campaign Finance Change as a Response to Polarization