Thursday, March 03, 2011

Repeal campaign finance laws

Kentucky's campaign finance laws should all be repealed.

Section 8 of Kentucky's Constitution states: "Printing presses shall be free to every person who undertakes to examine the proceedings of the General Assembly or any branch of government, and no law shall ever be made to restrain the right thereof. Every person may freely and fully speak, write and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty."

The federal government and every state except Kentucky have written a "press exemption" into their campaign finance laws in order to claim that a news article or editorial can't be considered a campaign contribution and to get around this kind of absolute guarantee of free speech rights. In 2007, the Federal Election Commission ruled that bloggers are also exempt from campaign finance laws. But if a non-blogger, non-journalist Kentuckian wants to print up some flyers or yard signs or bumperstickers or whatever, he is suddenly subject to campaign finance limitations.

Big government types in the Kentucky Senate have tried repeatedly to enact a press exemption in order to give Kentucky's unconstitutional campaign finance laws some legal underpinning. The fact that they have also repeatedly failed to enact a press exemption means there is really no justification for Kentucky to place any kind of limits on political speech. After all, campaign finance laws mostly came about as an attempt to keep corruption out of politics in the 1970's. How well is that working out for us?