A Federal Judge in Tacoma has ruled that the unfettered flow of money is equivalent to free speech in elections. The problem is that corporations and wealthy individuals have more money than average citizens and hence can buy more “free speech”.
The ruling throws out a Washington State law that limited individual contributions to campaigns to a maximum of $5000 per contribution in the last three weeks. The intent was to limit the influx of huge amounts of money right before an election that could put out false statements that opponents did not have the ability to respond to effectively.
Why this ruling is absurd is that both sides in an initiative for example had to comply with the same rules. It was not like one side was getting special treatment. Unfortunately now corporations and special interests can dump in huge amounts of money at the last minute without the ability of the opposing side or the media to respond to what can be false or erroneous statements. That is why the law was put in place.
The argument that the ability to spend any amount of money one wants in initiative campaigns is exercising free speech is absurd. Money buys paid speech. The Seattle Times article notes that already some $32.5 million has been spent on 6 initiatives this year.
The lawsuit was brought by Family PAC which opposed Referendum 71 last year. Referendum 71 passed 53% to 47% and expanded rights for domestic partners. It was opposed by conservative groups.