Four points on the debate over disclosing donors to ballot questions...
MPR News has wrapped up the discussion that happened during the week of June 26th. But feel free to view the full debate and draw your own conclusions by clicking the link below.
- When ballot questions are put to a public vote, the voters become lawmakers and the interest groups and advocates for one side or the other act as lobbyists. Therefore, the voters must be able to know who is lobbying for either side, in concurrence with the laws that require lobbyists in Congress to disclose who is funding them.
- A: If it is required, individuals should assess the possible impact. This sounds paranoid, however, in today's polarized environment on so many issues (abortion, gay rights, war, immigrants) it seems naive not to consider these issues. Jobs, safety, etc might be at stake. This does not sound like America...but it could happen.
- "Running a democracy takes a certain amount of civic courage. And the First Amendment does not protect you from criticism or even nasty phone calls when you exercise your political rights to legislate, or to take part in the legislative process." - Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in Doe vs. Reed
- There is a long an honorable tradition in this country of anonymous speech. Much of the debate surrounding the ratification of the Constitution, including the Federalist papers, were published under pseudonyms. The Founders did this not simply because they feared reprisals, but because they had the quaint notion that arguments should be evaluated on their merits.
- I think the proposed bill should not be a general law for every single case where donors' identities are made public because there will be some cases in which it's not in the interest of the public to have these identities exposed, and there will be opposite cases. Trying to coax a formula that fits all is likely to bring about bad outcomes for other cases in the future.
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