NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Campaign Act Regulator Warns Against Reforms

April 23, 2001

Bradley Smith is a member of the Federal Election Commission -- which enforces the Federal Election Campaign Act. He is also an outspoken opponent of the act, arguing that it undermines democracy. Moreover, he calls the campaign reform act being considered by Congress a "folly."

Smith advances his criticisms in a new book entitled "Unfree Speech."

Here are some of his arguments:

  • He believes that money is good for politics and more money would be better, that restricting campaign contributions undermines the right to free speech, and that there is no evidence that campaign money corrupts the legislative system.
  • Efforts to regulate campaign finances have been plagued by the law of unintended consequences -- as attacks on one problem have spawned others.
  • Smart special interests are always better at getting around restrictions than genuine grass-roots movements.
  • Rather than the present and proposed regulatory approach, a simple requirement that campaign contributions be disclosed would allow voters to decide if a politician has been corrupted by money.
  • Or it may be time to decide whether even disclosure is worth the cost.

Source: Gerald F. Seib, "A Campaign Cop Makes the Case Against His Job," Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2001.


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