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.

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  1. ARE THE VOTERS NOW THE LAWMAKERS? 

    One aspect of this debate became how you define the individual (the voter, the donor) in the context of a ballot amendment question.


    Mike Dean, executive director, Common Cause Minnesota :

  2. 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.
  3. We reached out to sources in MPR's Public Insight Network and posed a few questions around this issue.... one of them had a warning for this new status for individual donors. 

    Dick Holt - A retired achool administrator who dealt for 30 years in both the public and private school settings. He lives in St. Cloud.

  4. 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.
  5. DOES SPEECH COME WITH BRAVERY? 

    Another side of the issue has to do with the willingness of people to stand behind what they say. 

    Mike Dean, executive director, Common Cause Minnesota submits a quote to bolster his argument... 

  6. "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
  7. Josiah Neeley, attorney, James Madison Center for Free Speech

  8. I’m all for civic courage, but to say that getting vandalized or threatened is just the price you pay for getting involved in the political process is to surrender to a cheapened discourse.
  9. ANONYMOUS OR NOT? 

    And if  we're talking about civic courage, we neatly move on to the idea of whether people have the right to be anonymous. 


    Josiah Neeley, attorney, James Madison Center for Free Speech

  10. 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.
  11. Nicole Erickson - Insight Now contributor

  12. I also don't think the constitution defines the concept of "free speech" as private. In other words, I don't think it says anywhere that we have some kind of right to engage in this free speech anonymously.
  13. Josiah Neeley, attorney, James Madison Center for Free Speech
  14. SHOULD IT HAVE BEEN CASE BY CASE? 

    We know that the state Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board made its decision on June 30. But one wild card wrinkle to this debate: Why not make it on a case-by-case basis? 

    Hani Hamdan, Insight Now participant

  15. 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.
  16. Pat Krueger, Insight Now participant

  17. But I think that working to apply a policy based on the particular issue (most are sensitive to someone) would be a seriously flawed and possibly dangerous approach.
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