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Mozilla CEO Resignation: Why Campaign Finance Should Be Anonymous

If you support secret ballots, you should oppose campaign finance law.

Walter Hudson


April 4, 2014 - 1:30 pm


By now, you may have read that a technology company head has been forced to resign on account of his support of traditional marriage. Yahoo News reports:

Mozilla Chief Executive Brendan Eich has stepped down, the company said on Thursday, after an online dating service urged a boycott of the company’s web browser because of a donation Eich made to opponents of gay marriage.

The software company came under fire for appointing Eich as CEO last month. In 2008, he gave money to oppose the legalization of gay marriage in California, a hot-button issue especially at a company that boasts about its policy of inclusiveness and diversity.

The boycott and subsequent response from Mozilla stand as examples of free association. Private entities have the right to condemn and disassociate from expression they find offensive. However, the story behind the story is how mandatory disclosure of campaign contributions like that made by Eich violates his rights, and those of countless others.

Consider why we have secret ballots. Why have labor unions and their surrogates fought so hard for card check? Knowing how someone votes enables opponents to retaliate. As Eich’s situation demonstrates, so too do the mandatory reporting requirements of campaign finance law.

This week, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that there should be no limits upon “how much money people can donate in total in one election season.” The Court properly recognized campaign contributions as expressions of free speech and exercises of free association. That recognition suggests that any limitation upon campaign finance violates individual rights.

The income tax has fostered a culture which regards how much someone makes, and how they spend it, as public business. Morally, such matters should remain private. Campaign finance law banning anonymous contributions chills speech in the same way public ballots would. When compelled to disclose campaign contributions, people cannot act freely upon their conscience. Donors must consider possible retaliation from parties who would not otherwise be privy to their beliefs or associations. Privacy emerges as a derivative of property and free association. Mandatory disclosure violates both, and thus violates privacy.

But campaign contributions affect public policy, you say. So how can they be private?

Voting affects public policy too. So when are we getting rid of secret ballots?

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, and as president of the Minority Liberty Alliance. He hosts a daily podcast entitled Fightin Words, proudly hosted on Twin Cities Newstalk Podcast Network. Walter is a city council member in Albertville, MN. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.

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All Comments   (3)
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Campaign finance laws are based on the premise that we can limit corrupt politicians by limiting the money involved in political campaigns, but it's a false premise. It's not the money that corrupts politicians, it's the power.

As long as our government is too large and involved in every aspect of our lives and our business, the incentive to game the system will continue to be larger than any possible threat of punishment for breaking some arbitrary finance laws. The only way to reduce corruption is to reduce the size and scope of government so there's little to be gained by buying off a politician.

It's also not that power corrupts, but that power attracts corruptible people. Reducing the power of government would also make government service less attractive to those attracted to power so overall we'd have a higher percentage of representatives willing to serve for the right reasons.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't see how this was a campaign donation. I also see a danger in allowing campaign donations from special interests. I have a hard time distinguishing them from bribes. Also, I have no solution. This is one of those hard problems with no true correct answer that I've come across.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
The only way making contributions anonymous works is if the donor is anonymous to the recipient as well as the public. To this end, there would have to be some sort of bundling mechanism for donations. The potential for false claims of donation in exchange for influence must be included. E.G. A donor claims to have donated $20k and wants a favour. The week of the claimed donation, $100k came in across an unknown # of donations. How does the recipient know that any of that came from the supposed donor?

The # of donations must be concealed as well. The sum total of donations over a period must be public- in order to encourage false claims of donation.
All tax-deductibility must go as well. Evidence that one made a contribution to a specific campaign must be prevented.

Money laundering. What we are talking about here is creating a legitimate form of money laundering- concealing and masking the origin of funds and re-integrating it into the system for legitimate uses.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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