Opinion: Campaign funding, and the implications of ‘free speech’
Free Press Weekly Opinion Columnist
I have noticed, and perhaps you have noticed, an ad airing on local television lambasting Mark Udall, his support of “Obamacare” and his acceptance of donations from the health care industry.
The ad was paid for by Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce. Interestingly it was learned that this group was funded and largely controlled by the billionaire Koch brothers. Its several hundred members pay (according to Wikipedia) $100,000 to belong to this “chamber of commerce.” If that is an initiation fee or annual fee, it was not determined. The group claims to be bi-partisan and its website states “Freedom Partners, headquartered in Arlington, Va., is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(6) chamber of commerce that promotes the benefits of free markets and a free society.”
Specifically the ad takes Udall to task for the acceptance of $94,500 from insurance companies and for his support of “Obamacare.” Reviewing campaign contribution reports, it appears as though that amount came from pharmaceutical companies and not insurance companies, but that distinction is probably of little significance. One can readily ascertain that $94,500 is a small amount given the massive amounts raised in total and from other sources that have contributed much more to the Udall campaign.
Having learned who these “Freedom Partners” were, then I became curious as to exactly what their point was, the accuracy of their claims and how this compared to Udall’s Republican opponent Cory Gardner. They are anti-Udall because of his pro-Obamacare position, and seem to insinuate that his acceptance of contributions from insurance companies is proof positive of his complicity and duplicity in the whole scheme. Obviously, anyone who would accept these monies from insurance companies and other rogues, gallery members of corrupt American companies lining their pockets with Obamacare income, is not fit for public office.
We then scan the contribution reports for Cory Gardner and are shocked to learn he has accepted contributions from the same tainted sources. If our math is correct the amounts Gardner has raised from pharmaceutical and insurance industries exceeds the amount Udall has received. If Udall can be bought for smaller amounts, then Gardner has truly been purchased by use of the same logic.
If we are to believe we should not vote for Udall for the reasons outlined in the ads, we should also not vote for Gardner. That is exactly what we should do, vote for neither. The taint of corporate control, unrestrained lobbyist influence and a government bought and paid for by billionaires is our newest reality. And, as for claims the Freedom Partners promote free markets and a free society, maybe they would care to release the names of their members so that we may further consider their motives and intentions.
Recent Supreme Court decisions have indicated that money is free speech, and any constraint upon spending in an election process is an unconstitutional limit to free speech. I see one fairly large distinction here — free speech is normally public speech. We are free to express our thoughts and opinions and do so in public forums. Is that right unrestricted if exercised in a secret manner? When you and I say words or write words, they are normally identified with a source. I am troubled when our political system is subject to attempted influence which comes from unknown sources and without any control as to the accuracy or inaccuracy of the information disseminated.
For those of you, including myself, who have concerns as to runaway government spending, we should all be especially concerned that this secret speech is subsidized by our tax dollars. Those unknown donors to Freedom Partners and countless other like organizations get a tax deduction. We, you and I, are paying for these 501 (c) juggernauts regardless of their mission, message or intent.
GJ Free Press columnist Jim Hoffman is a local Realtor and investor who, when not working, loves skiing, camping and fishing (in season). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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