Why Money Is Speech

The subject of campaign finance restrictions came up in one of my classes recently.  Quite a few people, leftists of course, just couldn’t grasp why restricting campaign contributions is a restriction on speech.  I’d like to offer a set of questions to demonstrate why money is speech.  If your answer changes from yes to no at some point, you need to think about principled difference exists between these.

  • Can I go to Congress in person and speak to my Congressman about an issue?
  • Can I go to Congress in person with my attorney and speak to my Congressman about the issue?
  • Can I go to Congress in person with my attorney, whose fee I am splitting with a friend, and speak to my Congressman about the issue?
  • If my friend is going to Congress in person with his attorney, can I save myself a trip, split the fee for his attorney, and let them speak to our Congressman about the issue?
  • Can I skip the trip and just tell my attorney to write a letter to my Congressman about the issue for me?
  • Can I tell my attorney to write a letter to the editor about the issue for me?
  • Can I tell my attorney to write a commentary piece for publication about the issue for me?
  • Can I place the commentary in the newspaper as an open letter by taking out a full page “advertisement”?
  • Can I skip the attorney and place a typical advertisement about the issue in a newspaper?
  • Can I skip the advertisement and post a 2 minute video of me, individually, discussing the issue on You Tube? 5 minutes? Movie length?
  • Can I hire someone to produce a 2 minute video about the issue to post on You Tube? 5 minutes? 60 minutes?  Movie-length?
  • Can I hire someone to produce a 2 minute video about the issue and pay a TV station to run it as an advertisement?
  • Can I hire someone to produce a movie-length video about the issue and pay a TV station to run it as an infomercial?
  • Can I split the cost with a friend to run the video advertisement? The infomercial?
  • Can I pool my resources with a group of people to run the video advertisement? The infomercial?
  • Can the same group of people, having incorporated, place the same advertisement about the same issue in a newspaper? Run the same video advertisement?  The same infomercial?
  • Can I skip the items above and just give the money to a candidate who agrees with me on the issue?
  • Can I pool my resources with a group of people to give money as individuals to a candidate who agrees with me on the issue?
  • Can the same group of people, having incorporated, give money to a candidate who agrees with them on the issue?

One Response

  1. The only reason we have a problem with letting unlimited funds flow into campaigns, is because it has historically been used as a way to buy legislation, buy elections, and buy appointments. I can show you hundreds of examples. I care about speech and freedom of expression absolutely. But I also can’t ignore the tape of Reagan arguing over how much a diplomat position should cost, the moving testimony of Jack Abramoff and how he owned a third of the house, or the mountains of politicians caught red-handed selling legislation for campaign donations. Companies also have more money than individuals giving them more power to sway the electoral process. I can’t donate a 100,000 to whatever congressman I want and he can’t use that money to further his campaign and neither can 99% of this nation. So we can’t support those politician’s campaigns the rich can, they can sustain a campaign with the flick of their wallet, nominees have dropped out of races because of the lack of funds. We’re making it so that 1% of this country holds 95% of the power. 95% of the time the candidate that wins is the candidate with the most donations. We need an equal part in our electoral system.

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