How did our founders manage to establish a republic committed to free speech and the rights of the individual without a Federal Election Commission?
Not only did the Sons of Liberty and other patriots lack a functioning FEC to protect them from “big-money interests,” many of the political communications of the founding era, including works as consequential as The Federalist Papers, were put forth anonymously. Horrors!
Consider organizing like-minded people during colonial times: No TV, radio, the Internet, smart phones . . . and sans, too, the Internal Revenue Service, strategically blocking them from creating non-profit groups that “criticize how the country is run.”
Which brings up the sorry case of Lois G. Lerner, head of the IRS’s exempt organizations division, now mired in the muck of controversy over unequal treatment of non-profit organizations. She expressed her innocence in the whole affair, but then took the Fifth, refusing to testify.
Ms. Lerner’s now on paid leave. That’ll learn ’er.
I bumped into her back in the 1990s, while I headed U.S. Term Limits and she led the FEC’s enforcement division, which was targeting conservative and libertarian groups. The FEC was never able to prove we did anything wrong, but did cost us plenty of time and money defending against their assault.
What sparked the FEC’s action, then, was incumbent Congressman Mike Synar’s complaint after we informed the people of Oklahoma that Synar opposed term limits. He lost in the Democratic Party primary . . . to a guy who spent less than $3,000.
Yes, that’s the sort of speech the folks in Washington want to regulate.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.