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    Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?

    Raise the curtain.

    Ruth Johnson Is Right.

    By JGillman, Section News
    Posted on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 11:55:38 AM EST
    Tags: Michigan, Elections, Ruth Johnson, Sunlight, Transparency, State Senate, SB661, Reporting Requirements, Hidden Agendas (all tags)

    Here hoping that Michigan State Representatives don't forget it when it gets to them.

    A recent in-box treat from the "Michigan Freedom Fund" declares a victory in the name of free speech.  The release says:

    "LANSING, November 14, 2013 - Michigan Freedom Fund President Greg McNeilly today released the following statement after Senate Bill 661 passed 20-18 in the Senate:


    "Government has no right to target and punish the free speech of individuals, whether or not it is unpopular or delivered through an unpopular medium.  Today, the Senate did the right thing by standing up for our rights and putting the Constitution first." "

    But what was this good thing that was done?

    Ruth Johnson apparently triggered a legislative action with a recent press release and intent on expanding reporting by shadow groups.

    " LANSING, Mich. - Saying the public has a right to know who is behind some of the most negative advertising in political campaigning, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today proposed a sweeping new disclosure rule.

    "In a country where free speech is protected, these ads are part of the political landscape and we can't stop them - but when they try to influence an election, we can make sure the public knows who is paying for them," said Johnson, a long-time fighter for transparency in elections.

    Specifically, Johnson's proposal targets political ads that try to persuade voters about the worthiness or unworthiness of a candidate or proposal without actually using the words "vote for" or "elect." They often encourage voters to contact a specific candidate, as in "call candidate Smith and tell her she shouldn't ignore senior citizens" or "go online to let candidate Jones know you care how he is wasting tax dollars."

    Because of a loophole in Michigan law, those electioneering ads - which are carefully crafted to meet the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law - do not currently require any campaign finance reporting. "

    Transparency, we support frankly.  As usual, McNeilly is off the mark because he didn't tell the whole story.

    Go below the fold.

    The bill's passage was to upend Johnson's proposal for transparency.

    A question asked repeatedly by reporters and activists.  Why was the bill rushed through upon her announcement?  And, what about transparency?

    Reporter: Is there more disclosure under this?

    Meekhof: You'll have to measure that. I can't answer that for you.

    Reporter: Do voters have the right to know who is financing issue ads?

    Meekhof: The issue ads are people who want to speak and educate the public. And they should have every right to do those issue ads, to educate the public on an issue.

    Reporter: Do voters have the right to know who is paying for them?

    Meekhof: That's your opinion.

    Reporter: No I'm just asking a question. That's not an opinion.

    Richardville: Actually the Supreme Court already made this decision. The Supreme Court made the decision that these don't have to be disclosed and so we codified what the Supreme Court, which is kind of a supreme voice, has already said. So this is just straight-forward codification of something that's already in place.

    OK, so why don't Meekhof and Richardville support transparency?

    Frankly, this is one of those issues that gets to the bottom of why politics is so dangerous to liberty.  When anonymous donors can influence elections and power arrangements, shouldn't it concern folks who might soon be their masters of a sort?  And the problem is clearly NOT the AMOUNT of money donated, but why some larger donors would prefer to be off the radar.

    Kieth Crain sums it up pretty nicely:

    "If you want to tell me about a candidate or an issue on television, radio or in print, go ahead. That's your right. But don't hide behind an anonymous group that will keep me guessing about who you are and where you are coming from. Please don't use some silly name that completely masks your group's identity.

    If you are a division of the Communist Party, I want to know. I think we all have a right to know. So don't run a disclaimer that tells me that these funds were from the Silly States Rights Commission."

    He opines further
    "The Michigan Legislature should support Johnson's idea, not derail it."

    So why would this be rushed through and applauded by faux groups such as McNeilly's Freedom Fund?

    Johnson's office maintains correctly that she can administer based on rules already in place. As secretary of state, Johnson has authority to promulgate new rules through the administrative rules process, which includes public hearings, required cost analysis and other reviews. She had already submitted a draft proposal to the state's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which oversees the administrative rules process.

    Perhaps this an end-around to protect incumbency by certain Republicans?  Meekhof's 'Codify' comments to reporters might be a clue.  By crafting a new framework for Johnson to operate under, the chance that her proposed rules for transparency are enacted become slim to none.

    There is no reason other than deliberate obfuscation of money channeling that such reporting should be held at bay.

    This can be a confusing issue for some.  As many observers on both sides of the political process decry big dollar donors, its unfortunate that the wrong answer is often cited to be a solution.  Occupiers for example, regard the first amendment ability to support financially as the flaw to be dealt with.  They are close to a small truth, but their solution of limits on contributions is indeed a violation of free speech. They would address the symptom, but not the underlying problem.

    And in SB661, legislators are being told it raises those caps a little, and that is a free speech win, yet the mechanics short shrift the transparency prospects.

    The truly dangerous reality however, is that it is government's inherent ability to control through rules, every aspect of our daily lives. The Real problem, is that such power is an aphrodisiac to some politicians, and that their service to unknown agendas will go unchecked.

    Because we cannot solve the control-over-our-lives issue anytime soon, shouldn't we want to at least know whom it is who fights for the soul of our lawmaking process, and what their priorities are?  Couldn't we be better served by understanding the motivations of those who wish to influence our legislators, and how closely our legislators will adhere to those motivations?

    I would have to agree with Michigan Senators Booher, Colbeck, Green, Hansen,Pavlov, and Proos on our side, and the entire Democrat side on this issue.

    Ruth Johnson is right.

    Let the sun shine.

    < Unapologetic Conservatives Always Knew it Blows | So He Likes Transparency? >

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    paine (none / 0) (#1)
    by Tom McMillin on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 12:55:00 AM EST
    who financed "common sense"?

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