by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Federal disclosure law requires anyone who gives more than $200 to a candidate to publicly disclose their name, employer, and address. The contribution limit hasn’t been raised for inflation in over 40 years, which means that many ordinary middle-class Americans are captured by the disclosure law. In a world where take-no-prisoners political thuggery is rampant, the possibility that disclosure can be used to harass and target people is real.
Take the example of what happened to several people in the wake of California’s 2008 passage of Proposition 8, which, while later overturned, stipulated that marriage in California could be only between a man and a woman. Some may recall that Brendan Eich, the CEO of Mozilla, was forced to step down for contributing $1,000 in support of Proposition 8.
But others who lacked Eich’s resources also lost their livelihood. …
… [I]t didn’t matter to his jubilant and sneering critics that David Koch gave hundreds of millions of dollars to Lincoln Center and the Smithsonian and to fund cancer research. Charities that he and his brother controlled also helped shepherd landmark federal criminal-justice reform into law last year. They also fund free-speech programs at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University; a rebirth of debate societies at black colleges that were the basis of the film The Great Debaters; and a project to collect oral histories from neighbors who have different political views.
But Democrats in Congress are convinced that a network of right-wing donors is a key obstacle standing in the way of their defeating Donald Trump. Democrats are ignoring the fact that the Koch family pointedly refused to support Trump in 2016. As part of Democrats’ umbrella election-reform bill, they would further expose the private information of political donors. Abuses would be inevitable.