Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Spineless Washington Post

On one of the closest election day’s in recent memory, the lead editorial in the Washington Post online isn’t on the races, but addresses campaign finance law. The Post criticizes the parties for acting within current law by raising soft money, and refers to the FEC as "spineless" for attempting to undercut the law.

As someone who has testified twice before the FEC in the last few months, I can assure you that the Commission has been anything but spineless in its attempts to assure that its regulations don’t make the McCain-Feingold any more unconstitutional than it already is--and this despite constant and rancorous opposition by editorial boards of the Post and NY Times. No, to be spineless is to work for a editorial page which has an exemption from campaign funding limitations--an exemption which permits you to expressly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates--and then to use that privilege to cast stones at others who don’t take kindly to having their free speech rights impaired.

If the editorial post really wanted to assure that soft money is out of politics, they would forego the huge contribution they make every year by writing favorable op-eds and endorsing candidates. After all, column space costs money, and therefore would constitute a contribution in the absence of the statutory exemption. The Post is angry that the parties didn’t follow the spirit of the law by foregoing soft money in this election, even though the law didn’t require this. I suggest then that the Washington Post set the standard for obeying the purported spirit rather than the letter of the law by foregoing the press exemption.

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