Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Political casualties of 2008, part II

Casualty #2: Public financing of presidential elections

This report really just says it all:
The Federal Election Commission is not likely to conduct a potentially embarrassing audit of Barack Obama’s record-breaking fundraising campaign despite allegations of questionable donations and accounting.

That’s the disclosure from Politico.com, which reports that Obama will probably escape scrutiny in large part because unlike John McCain, he declined to accept $84 million in public financing.

Accepting that money automatically triggers an audit, meaning that the FEC is obligated to thoroughly audit the McCain campaign’s coffers, which will take months and cost McCain millions to defend.
Let's recap. John McCain, the honorable man, signs up for the inherently noble public financing system to obtain a corruption-free source of campaign cash for his presidential campaign. Therefore, every last penny that McCain spent in his campaign must be rigorously audited to prove that not even the slightest taint of corruption was attached to it. On the other hand, Barack Obama was more than willing to saw "screw you" to the entire system and raise gigatons of cash from anybody and everybody. Therefore, the system couldn't even less whether this was done fraudulently or illegally and won't even bother to investigate.

It is clear that the federal campaign financing system has totally failed. Barack Obama has escalated the two-party rivalry to a point beyond the ability of the current system to comprehend, much less regulate. At this point, simple political survival makes disengaging from the federal campaign financing system the sin qua non of a serious Republican presidential contender.

The only possible way to salvage the system is the Conservative position: remove unconstitutional restraints on political donations. The principle corruption problem in American campaign finance is not making sure that little old ladies and college students aren't giving too much to campaigns. It is fraudulent donations and donations from people who are not American citizens. The FEC will operate much more efficiently if it focuses on preventing electoral campaign crime instead of trying to police the public virtue.


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