Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform

Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform

Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform

Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform

Synopsis

"A wonderful, timely, and accessible book about one of the most pressing public questions of our time: the issue of campaign finance reform. Bedeviling our nation's political community for more than twenty-five years, the dispute over how best to regulate political campaign funding--and hence political campaign speech--has pitted free speech advocates against good government reformers, Democrats against Republicans, and courts against legislatures. Bradley Smith's highly readable book navigates all of these crosscurrents in a balanced way that informs the reader of the basic elements of the debates, while deftly skewering the key components of the conventional wisdom by arguing for the elimination of laws limiting campaign funding."--Joel Gora, Brooklyn Law School

"To date no one has written a sustained, book-length argument for the deregulation of campaign financing. Bradley Smith's "Unfree Speech is a welcome step in filling that gap. He addresses numerous important themes, including the inroads on freedom of speech caused by campaign finance regulation, the tendency of reformers to exaggerate the harms of campaign finance and to seek increasing restrictions on speech, and the tendency for the burden of regulation to fall most heavily on everyday citizens."--Daniel Lowenstein, UCLA

Excerpt

On February 9, 2000, as I was working toward completion of this book, I was nominated to fill a vacancy on the Federal Election Commission, the independent federal agency that oversees enforcement of federal campaign finance laws. This created an outcry of sorts, unprecedented for a nominee to this rather obscure government agency. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois dubbed me a “nihilist.” Scott Harshbarger, the president of Common Cause, called my nomination a throwback “to the dark days of Watergate.” Editorial writers compared nominating me to public office to nominating pornographer Larry Flynt, former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke, and murderer Ted Kaczynski (aka the “Unabomber”) to public office. From there it often got worse.

Most telling, however, were the comments of Vice President Al Gore. Opposing the nomination of his own president, the vice president declared, “the last . . .

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