The Times was doing well with the younger set in recent days, hammering home the virtues of legalized access to marijuana, but it has taken a step back. Now it is questioning  the right of youth to accept unlimited support from parents and other relatives through family-established or -financed Super PACs.

This was one opportunity for the realization of a young person’s dream—unlimited financial support from family which could not be used as leverage to tell the kids what to do. This spending must be independent.  It’s the law.

This turns out to be an exception from the trend noted just this morning by Robert Samuelson in The Washington Post toward large numbers of young people returning home after college. They can have family support while mapping out their careers.  Should their career interest turn to politics, however, family options dwindle. Neither the mother nor the father, not the sister nor the brother, and certainly none of the relatives outside the immediate family circle, can contribute more than $2,600 per election. Unless  the family sets up a Super PAC.

Of course, one of the enduring questions about federal campaign finance law is why a member of a candidate’s immediate family cannot contribute more than $2,600 per election and must comply with the same contribution limit that everyone else must live by.  One can imagine an argument based on political equality. The Supreme Court has insisted, however, that the only relevant consideration is corruption or its potential, which in most circumstances appears a dim possibility within the family circle.

For young people, however, the law that is so frustrating to The Times works on various levels.  At war with Mom or Dad over the condition of your room? No problem: include among the clothing and other materials strewn about the floor and under the bed sensitive strategic information about your campaign. Parents would have to keep out or run the risk of committing a violation of federal law by coming upon this information amid the debris.

The Times cannot be faulted for drawing attention to the question of Super PACs and their activities.  But the line of attack it has chosen, on families throwing money after their children, seems an odd direction for this reform argument to take. Kinship should have its privileges. And that should be obvious to the Times, a family-owned newspaper.

Category: Coordination

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