Campaign Finance Reform



It is interesting to note that when the Congress enacted laws guaranteeing equal access for the handicapped and minimal working condition standards for employees they exempted themselves and their facilities from these regulations. Notice they've also, exempted their election committees from paying taxes. As if they believe a political committee benefits society as much as the Salvation Army or even The USGA. If there exists one category of American organizations that deserve to pay taxes election committees belong at the top of the list. Just the fact that our elective officials chose to spend so many of their working hours attending fund raising events justifies the public's confiscation of some of these funds. But this tax proposal goes beyond penalizing officials for screwing off instead of going to work. This proposal promotes the candidacy of citizens with strong public support.

Examine Steve Forbes campaign, including his legislative proposals, his camera presence, his personality and his intellect. Compare it to your own. No doubt you'll see in a contest between you and him, his only advantage in the quest for the presidency is his inheritance. So why can't you run for President and receive at least as much respect. You're clearly superior. You don't have a chance at advancing your views because the current system favors to heavily those who have or can raise money. If it didn't favor the money trail then your chances of getting elected would be higher. This chapter outlines a better system that elevates the status of citizens capable of displaying strong public support. This system promotes the candidates the public backs whether the support comes from the wealthiest classes or those in the bottom economic tier. In this system, contributors can donate all they want and the election process actually benefits from the larger donations.

The new system works like this. A candidate receives a donation and gathers the same information now required including name, place of employment, foreign or not. If the donation comes from an American source the election committee keeps one third of the money and commits the rest of the money to the general pot for that specific election. If the donation comes from a foreign source the election committee keeps one fifth of the money and commits the other four fifths to the general pot. Then the FEC distributes the money from the general pot in proportion to the number of nominating signatures the candidate received in order to get on the ballot.

As an example: A company supports a candidate for the U.S. House of Representative (NY 40th District) with a $300,000 donation. The candidate keeps $100,000 and $200,000 goes into a kitty to be distributed to all the U.S. House of Representative (NY 40th District) candidates. If the original candidate managed to garner of all the nominating signatures that candidate would receive $100,000 dollars of the kitty. In a two-person contest the companies $300,000 donation ended up with $200,000 going to the candidate the company supports and $100,000 going to the candidate half the citizenship supports. A significant difference in financial support still exists but a candidate with a good message and good organizational skills can overcome this. Besides the object is not to give each candidate equal amounts of money. The object is to give good candidates a fighting chance against those with enormous financial support.

What about the candidate with a lot of money but no public support that chooses to bankroll the election bid through personal funds? No limit of free speech exists with the proposed system. Candidates are free to spend as much personal cash as they wish promoting their ideas. They still must contribute to the general fund in the same manner as everyone else. So if a presidential candidate donates $10 million to promote his candidacy he must also donate $20 million to the general fund. If the race is between 4 different men and this candidate garners only 5% of the nominating signatures then he'll get $1 million back and the other three will split the $19 million according to the number of nominating signatures they received. Notice how difficult buying an election becomes under these rules.

Since you now understand the general concept let's explore some other aspects. Can this plan be enforced? Adjusting the amount of allocation from the general fund can solve minor incidences of cheating or omissions. Penalties may also automatically be subtracted. If the committee makes gross errors in reporting since the contributions to the general fund will be classified as taxes the committee will be in violation of a tax code. This ensures involvement by the IRS, the one agency even politicians' fear. The most challenging aspect of the general fund concept involves the timely collection and distribution of the funds. Candidates must be required to declare and submit the donations within a short time frame and the fund must distribute those funds in an even faster manner. Candidates will not be able to borrow during the two months prior to the elections. And the candidates' war chest for the last three weeks of the campaign must come from funds established prior to this three-week period. This will help ensure the candidates don't line-up contributors for the last week or two and shut out the other candidates until after the election.

How do you judge what triggers the tax? Any donation to a declared candidate or political party will trigger the tax. Any net proceeds of political banners, buttons and other memorabilia require a contribution to the general fund. Net proceeds from dinners or speaking engagements going into the election fund of a candidate or political party are subject. Actually, any sale or event that produces cash which the candidate uses or plans to use to run a campaign are subject to the tax. Any advertisement mentioning any declared candidate or political party generates a tax bill due to be paid by the same organization or individual paying for the advertisement. The medium used to advertise collects the tax just like a sales tax unless the organization paying for the advertisement can show they pay the taxes directly to the general fund.

For instance if the NRA runs a TV ad saying don't vote for Hilary then the TV station collects a tax equal to twice the cost of the advertisement and forwards that money to the general fund. Also, the ad agency producing the ad must collect and forward a tax equal to twice the production cost of the add.

Can non-political organizations produce election-oriented materials and avoid the tax? Yes if they avoid mentioning, or showing a likeness of any declared candidate or political party in those materials. For instance if the NRA produced a commercial advocating instant background checks and to vote for a senatorial candidate who believes the same way then no tax. As long as they avoid saying, "vote for this guy" or "or vote for this party" or "don't vote for her" or "don't vote for this party" no tax would be due. But when they say, "we believe the mayor has the right idea" then they generated the tax.

Home - / - Table of Contents - / - Continue Preview