Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Even the attorney who won Citizens United at the SCOTUS thinks the system is broken

James Bopp.  The problem is that his ideas for fixing it don't sound much like improvement.

Bopp: You have to have as few rules as possible, and those rules need to be vigorously enforced. If they are not enforced, they are pointless.

Center for Public Integrity: Do you think the number of people trying to game the system has increased in recent years?

Bopp: No, there are always corrupt people, and they will always try to game the system. The more rules there are, the more opportunities they have to do that … This is the reason the Soviet Union collapsed — because of all the rules on the economy that people were flaunting with black markets and bribes and everything [else] to get around all these rules. And, of course, the response by the Communists — just as the response by campaign finance reformers — always is more rules.

Ah, we're Communists now.

Center for Public Integrity: How would the 2016 presidential race be different if candidates could accept unlimited amounts of money or higher amounts of money?

Bopp: They wouldn’t need to set up six or eight different organizations to raise money. They would have one … [Now] your last option is a candidate committee because it is the one that has the most severe contribution limits of all the potential options.


Center for Public Integrity: What sort of boundaries or lines do those groups have to worry about?

Bopp: Each has their own unique set of rules, and you just have to make sure that you follow those. It’s a very complex dance now ... And it requires very sophisticated legal advice. It advantages the rich and the sophisticated, but all these rules always do. The more rules, the more money it takes, the more sophistication it takes to navigate them.

Center for Public Integrity: Is there a level of anonymous money in the process that would be concerning to you?

Bopp: It’s really pretty hard to get anonymous money effectively into a campaign … I am concerned about the system generally right now because it has been distorted, and it has been rendered so non-transparent and non-accountable.

Center for Public Integrity: What about political spending by so-called “social welfare” nonprofits that are organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code — where it’s unclear where the money is coming from?

Bopp: If it’s a (c)(4), you’ve got to spend half your money on activity that has nothing to do with the election. If your intent is to affect the election, half of the money is wasted. And not very many people are willing to waste half of their money.

Center for Public Integrity: Looking at the current landscape, some regulators have proposed restricting the political activities of certain nonprofits.

Bopp: If the current [vehicles] are attacked so that [their effectiveness and utility] goes down, then other ones will be used … There are organizations that I have already thought of that haven’t yet been utilized very much.

Center for Public Integrity: Like what?

Bopp: You’ve got to pay me for that. But there are several that I’ve already figured out how to utilize if that becomes necessary.

"You've got to pay me for that".

Center for Public Integrity: In your mind, how long until the entire system reaches a tipping point?

Bopp: We have reached the tipping point! It’s utterly unaccountable and non-transparent. And it’s all because the rules have made them so … This is a downward spiral until the whole system collapses, which it is very close to. The effects of contribution limits have so distorted the system that we have almost zero accountability and transparency.

Yeah, we're through the looking glass all right.  Bopp appears to believe that there are still too many laws governing campaign finance reform.

If that's true, then yes, I'm a Communist, and the revolution is coming a lot slower than I would like.

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