04 Aug

Putting the political debate up for sale

The Supreme Court says government can’t regulate campaign spending because, “Money is speech.”

And with every election, it gets louder.

Last month, we discovered that the multibillionaire Koch brothers’ political action committee, Freedom Partners, will spend at least $3.6 million in support of Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby. It’s not clear that the money will be effective, but the Koch brothers don’t have to worry; Freedom Partners spent $236 million leading up to the 2012 election. They have essentially unlimited political money.

Meaning unlimited speech.

In the first week of the Koch buy, in August, Freedom Partners will run more than $600,000 in TV ads – more than either Oregon candidate has so far spent on television. That’s one of the problems in giving money unlimited speech – it tends to drown out the people actually running.

And Oregon’s not even considered a highly contested race. At the start of July, with four months to go, the North Carolina Senate race had already seen $25 million in outside spending.

Just about all independent spending has the same message; the other candidate is a jerk. If an actual candidate has a different message, he’s going to have to shout.

The Supreme Court says money is political speech.

Actually, money replaces political speech.

NOTE: This commentary appeared on KGW-TV Saturday, 8/2/14.