Benefactor of Dark Money Says Political System Doesn't Have Enough Dark Money in It

A couple weeks ago, I bashed the mainstream media for criticizing Progress Michigan's funding after Progress Michigan criticized the "New Energy to Reinvent and Diversify Fund" (NERD Fund). The criticism still stands. A lack of transparency by Progress Michigan is about one-tenth as problematic as a lack of transparency for a governor's policy-oriented slush fund.

However, today we can shift the issue to organizations that rely on anonymous donors. Why? Because Jack McHugh, Senior Legislative Analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, thinks that the problem with American politics isn't that it is too awash in secret money, but that it needs lots more. The Mackinac Center, by the way, is — like Progress Michigan — an organization that relies on non-disclosure of donations. His logic is, shall we say, a tad leaky.

To be fair, there are legitimate concerns about the potential corrupting effect of money in politics. While contribution caps and donor disclosure laws may seem effective ways to mitigate the risks, the record shows they are not. Even as political speech restrictions have grown more pervasive, their main proponents routinely release reports with headlines like this: "Record spending, diminishing accountability in (insert year) Michigan state campaigns."

In other words, their preferred solution doesn't work. There is in fact only one way to reduce the influence of money in politics — scale back the size and scope of government. As big government intrudes ever more deeply into the economy and citizens' lives, the need to seek redress of grievances, and the value of seeking special favors, increases apace.

It's helpful if you ignore things like current events and history if you want to make sense of this. Restrictions on campaign finance and donor accountability aren't growing stricter. Record spending and diminishing accountability are things that are happening because contribution limits and transparency are being lifted. Apparently in Jack McHugh's world, Citizens United imposed strict limits and made everyone disclose their identities. As to the bit about scaling back the size and scope of government, there are handy charts out there for your easy perusal that are informative about relevant trends.



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