An excellent column on why we must protect the right to donate to political causes - and speech - in which we believe.
Self-congratulation is rampant in New York after last week's adoption of the state's gay marriage statute. Among those who are the new toast of the town is the "group of super-rich Republican donors" (in the words of a certain Manhattan broadsheet) without whose financial backing the bill might not have passed.
It turns out that hedge fund operator Paul Singer, a prominent supporter of conservative causes, lent his checkbook and prestige to the gay marriage battle. He was joined by financiers Daniel Loeb and Cliff Asness. They underwrote a campaign that cost over $1 million to persuade four GOP state Senators to assure passage. A similar bill failed in 2009.
This news led our wry friends at the New York Sun to suggest a "thought experiment": "How would the liberals have felt had there been a law in place requiring the taxpayers of New York to underwrite a campaign against the same-gender marriage law?" The question is rhetorical.
The Sun's point is that the political left has spent years—no, decades—trying to impose limits on political campaign donations by the wealthy. Liberals prefer taxpayer financing of political campaigns. The left has been raging in particular against the Supreme Court for ruling last year in the Citizens United case that corporations and unions could donate to independent expenditure campaigns. There was more liberal outrage Monday as the Court struck down an Arizona law that provided matching funds to publicly financed candidates if their privately financed opponents exceeded a fund-raising limit.
Yet in New York, liberals are celebrating the huge independent political expenditures of Wall Street financiers because they support one of their favorite causes. Somehow in this case, the left has concluded that these big donors are contributing to democracy, not "hijacking" it. We welcome these liberals to the view that unlimited donations are a form of political free speech.