Document:Editorial 1973 D Frank Robinson We've Got a Secret - Way to End Dirty Money in Politics

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We've Got a Secret

Way to End Dirty Money in Politics

Some kind of political campaign financing reform will almost surely be enacted in this session of Congress. It will almost just as surely fail to correct the intended abuses and further erode the public ·confidence in the competence of the present Congress. The fault lies, I believe, in the fact that our legislators have lost sight of their proper objective. Libertarians contend that all laws must demonstrably act to protect the rights of individuals. What measures may be en­ acted, if any, which will further safeguard our political liberties?

In considering laws to alter campaign practices we must keep in mind that the advocacy of political ideas is essentially a First Amendment freedom to speak and publish without prior restraint by government. A candidate is an advocate who is also asking for the legal right to exercise public authority as an elected official of the government. He does not lose his First Amendment rights as a citizen by becoming a candidate, however, because has chose to put himself forward for public office we may as voters, require that he conduct himself differently than the private citizen.

To impose any financial limitation on the advocacy of ideas is a violation on the citizen's rights under the Constitution. There should not be any legal financial limitation on the amount any citizen may choose to spend to exercise his right to freedom of speech. Nor should there be any limit on the amount he can persuade others to contribute to pay the expenses of exercising that right. Should these attempts to impose a form of prior censorship by economic maneuvers be enacted into law Congress, then we can expect them to be tested in court and at the polls in future elections. The need for reform to correct abuses and corruption is real and legitimate. It can be done without violating anyone's rights. I believe the plan I recently pro­ posed will do this.

The secret voucher plan would prevent candidates knowing who their financial contributors were. They could not be influenced by any contributor. It would be much like our present method of voting. No one knows who you vote for? You can tell anyone how you voted but you can't PROVE how you voted. It's secret.

There would be no limits on how much anyone contributed. There would be no need to limit contributions, since no one could use his contribution to bargain with. How much the candidates received and what they spent it for would be a matter of public record. There would be a full disclosure of campaign expenditures. There need be no contribution limit that would undermine the public's right to learn about the candidates. The secret voucher would shield the individual contributor from political re prisals and shakedowns by government officials. It would shield the candidate from those who would expect favors for their contributors because could truthfully claim ignorance of any basis for such expectations. The secret voucher would further protect the individual from non-government coercion by employers, labor chieftains and others. NO ONE would know who gave how much, if any thing, to any political candidate or party. Finally, the secret voucher would not require an expensive new bureaucracy to administer. Those who choose to contri bute would finance the cost of their protection by having about 3% deducted from their contribution for overhead cost of printing, accounting, and storage of funds. The costof the plan would not be financed by any revenue from general taxation. It would pay for itself.

This idea is vastly more just than the proposal to make all taxpayers under write the cost of all political candidates. It is questionable why any honest candid ate would want to run for public office with stolen money, because that is just what he would be doing under a system of public financing of election campaigns.

The details of the secret voucher plan to reform political campaign financing can be obtained by writing to:


Be sure to enclose One dollar. We are a NOT tax supported and subsidized public leech. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, podner.