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The Conservative Campaign Finance Two-Step

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Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin winks as she speaks during her vice presidential debate against Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The bait:

Shareholder objections raised through the procedures of corporate democracy can be more effective today because modern technology makes disclosures rapid and informative. A campaign finance system that pairs corporate independent expenditures with effective disclosure has not existed before today. It must be noted, furthermore, that many of Congress’ findings in passing BCRA were premised on a system without adequate disclosure. With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters. Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are “ ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.” The First Amendment protects political speech; and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.

Citizens United v. F.E.C. (Kennedy, J.)

The switch:

Joaquin Castro, a Democratic congressman from Texas and chairman of the presidential campaign of his twin brother, Julián, fired back on Tuesday after being castigated on social media for tweeting the names and occupations of his constituents who’d maxed out their donations to President Donald Trump.

His tweet contained a graphic titled “Who’s funding Trump?” and listed the names of 44 people who purportedly contributed the maximum amount allowed by campaign finance laws. Their occupations, which, like donor names, are public record, were also listed. Close to a dozen of the donors shown are retirees.

“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump,” Castro wrote, naming local businesses whose owners were on the list. “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

The graphic, which Castro indicated had originated with a Democratic activist group, was blasted out to the more than 27,000 followers of his congressional campaign account on Tuesday afternoon. It came as politicians’ loaded rhetoric has come under closer scrutiny after a mass shooting over the weekend in El Paso that killed 22 and wounded dozens of others. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, which mirrored language used by the suspected shooter in a racist manifesto, has loomed over the tragedy in the days since.

Several GOP congressional leaders rebuked their colleague on Tuesday.

“Virtually all campaign finance restrictions are unconstitutional, but transparency will allow the MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS to hold donors accountable.” [Democrat criticizes maxed-out Republican donor] “Transparency is evil and criticizing people for their political violations is the end of free speech in America.”

Anyway, the criticisms of Castro make no sense at all:

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