April 02, 2003
James Taranto notes an Associated Press report regarding an astonishing court-created loophole in federal campaign finance regulations.
Let's say you donate $100 to the Republican National Committee; federal law requires the RNC to publicly disclose your name and donation amount to the Federal Election Commission. And let's say your sadly misguided neighbor sends a donation to the Democratic National Committee; the same law applies. Ditto for the Libertarians, the Greens, and -- with one exception -- every other American political party.
The exception? The Socialist Workers Party.
As the AP explains, in 1979 a federal court ruled that the Socialist Workers Party is allowed to keep the identity of its commie donors secret because they may be subjected to harassment. The exemption lasts for six years and is renewable by the FEC. The exemption is up for renewal now and the FEC's lawyers are recommending its continuation.
This dirty little FEC secret is appalling for two reasons. First, as the AP reports:
The Socialist Workers Party advocates a Marxist revolution to overthrow the U.S. government. Taking the Russian and Cuban revolutions of the 20th century as models, it wants to replace the country's capitalist system with a government of workers and farmers.
There you have it. While Republicans and Democrats are forced by law to make public the names of loyal Americans who financially support their parties, the financial supporters of a political party seeking to "overthrow" the United States are guaranteed anonymity by the very government they seek to destroy.
Secondly, this exemption blatantly violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection. In other words, federal campaign finance disclosure requirements must apply to the donors of every party or to none at all. Constitutionally, there can be no middle ground in this regard.
The Justice Department can and should intervene in this matter.
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