While discussing the latest IRS scandal — the one about how the IRS has been (is still) stacking the deck against non-lefty nonprofits seeking tax-exempt status — the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto mentions another kind of deck-stacking: campaign financial regulation.
Seems that Hillary Clinton, still running for president, is using her serially disgraced husband’s 501(c)3 foundation as a launching pad or financial resource for political operations. Taranto wonders whether the IRS “would investigate the Clinton Foundation for evidently acting as a front group for a political campaign” — quickly adding that his question is “facetious” given the fact that “the Obama IRS only goes after little guys.”
Suppose, however, that there were in fact an inquiry into the relationship between Hillary’s incipient campaign and the foundation? The point Taranto wants to make is that whether we’re talking about the IRS code or campaign finance regulation, it’s easier to comply with “complex and burdensome regulations on political speech” when you have resources to splurge on lawyers who can ensure that you’re obeying the letter of the law. Thus, the regulations “give incumbents a huge advantage over upstart challengers.”
Though hardly the only problem with CFR, this bedrock truth about the regulatory regime undermines the claim that such regulations serve only to “level the playing field.” What they really do is make it impossible for an unknown, un-wealthy but otherwise viable challenger to quickly “level the playing field” by accepting large checks from donors convinced of the challenger’s electability and election-worthiness.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.