Sunday, November 28, 2004

Campaign Finance Reform

Suggested by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times:

Funnel campaign donations through a blind trust. The funkiest idea in politics is to make donations anonymous even to the recipient. Citizens would make contributions through a blind trust, so that candidates wouldn't know to whom they were beholden.

If officials don't know who their major contributors are, they can't invite them to spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom or write tax loopholes. A donor might boast about having made a contribution, but special interests will realize they can save money by telling politicians that they have donated when they haven't, and then politicians will doubt these boasts.

Such a system of shielding names of donors exists in 10 states, to some degree, for judicial candidates. A provocative book by Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres, "Voting With Dollars," makes an excellent case that the system be applied more broadly, but we need some innovative state (Oregon, do you hear that?) to take the leap.


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