Attempting to preempt restless progressives unsatisfied with her Democrat coronation, Hillary Clinton’s consultants went to the drawing board. Bemoaning political money and calling for campaign finance reform was one easy fix they discovered to mollify all those potential progressive check writers and precinct walkers.
Thus on Clinton’s first official campaign day in Iowa she sent (some) progressive hearts aflutter: “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccounted money out of it, once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment.” Ms. Clinton has yet to flush out the details of how her proposed 28th Amendment will cleanse our politics of the evil greenback. But rest assured its coming, as she declared to the Washington Post, “We do have a plan. We have a plan for my plan.” Whatever the plan is, it hasn’t yet made talking-point status on her website.
Nevertheless the putative plan raises several issues and even more questions once it arrives from People for the American Way or whatever reformer shop likely tasked with creating it. For instance, “unaccountable” money would presumably not include the bucket loads her Foundation received from foreign governments while she was Secretary of State. Nor would it count against the $2.5 billion she is planning on raising, or the $300 million others will pour into friendly Super PACs. It probably doesn’t include the millions that dark-money consortium Democracy Alliance will provide to Clinton-votarist David Brock’s buffet of ‘watchdog’ and ‘accountability’ organizations that will defend her and provide opposition research. And it most likely won’t include reversing the ten-fold political party cap increases her general counsel negotiated in ‘Crominbus’ late last year.
What the amendment would do, however, would make it harder for Ms. Clinton’s opponents to challenge her. As with so much of government processes, excessive rules and limits on political speech favor those with the means to get around them: the powerful, the incumbent, the connected. Those whose burrito-shop stops can produce fawning coverage about how she ordered “flawlessly” can afford to bury opponents in speech-regulation goulash. As National Review’s Charles Cooke states:
[T]hat Hillary Clinton is among the people advancing [a constitutional amendment] is nothing short of extraordinary. Clinton is one of the most powerful people in the world. As we have seen this very week, she is able to get her message out wherever and whenever she wishes — often at no cost . . . That she would seek to undermine the capacity of less powerful Americans to band together and respond to her dominance . . . should tell us a great deal about the woman. Perhaps she will lobby for the return of seditious libel, too?
In that spirit, here are some basic questions Ms. Clinton should answer about her yet-determined constitutional proposal:
- Does the $2.5 billion she’s raising help get her message out? If so why should future candidates be hindered with caps?
- Was Buckley wrong in holding “expenditure ceilings impose . . . severe restrictions on protected freedoms of political expression and association”?
- Should she be elected, will the $2.5 billion she’s raising stain her administration from the outset? Did campaign money corrupt her husband’s administration?
- Does the First Amendment enable the government to dictate how much a person can speak about politics?
Although generally well received in the reformer community, not everyone is onboard. Noted election-law professor Rick Hasen called an amendment “counterproductive and will only make things worse.” In his typically spastic fashion, Harvard professor Larry Lessig previously supported an amendment but is now against it. For once the professors are right; Ms. Clinton should find some other issues to pander to the angst-ridden progressive Left.
By Paul Jossey