George Will has written about the problems that state campaign finance laws present for little people—“small groups and individuals” going about their business and discovering when they dip their toes into political waters that those waters can be treacherous. See Justice v. Hosemann, No. 3:11-CV-138-SA-SAA (N.D. Miss. filed Sept. 30, 2013); see also Galassini v. Town of Fountain Hills, No. CV-11-02097 (D. Ariz. Sept. 30, 2013) at 1 (involving the “rights of an ordinary citizen [to] organize a protest”). The few hundred dollars these individuals and groups raise to express an opinion about a ballot initiative can subject them to a registration and reporting statute. They may find that they must put off their political project until they have complied with a law about which, only a short time before, they knew nothing. Some imagine, rightly or wrongly, that a lawyer has to be called, and eventually the call goes out—for a lawsuit. Will blames the errant course of the law on the insatiable appetite of “liberals” for “the regulatory state.”

But it is not certain that “liberals” or “progressives” who support reasonable campaign finance regulation would all applaud the results in these cases. They might well agree that there is a problem, one that arises from certain theories of enforcement and their application, not from core progressive commitments.

Category: Disclosure