The Campaign Speech vs. Commerce Contribution Clarification Act.

There are two major types of donations to electoral campaigns; individual and corporate. Individual is where individual people do not have a vested financial interest in the outcome, they believe in the candidate, or the candidate’s issues, and they just want to exercise their right to contribute money so the candidate can better get their message out. There is usually a cap on individual contributions to campaigns, and we can check whether there are state and federal variations. This does not violate the “free speech,” clause in the Constitution, although the Constitution states no monetary value or monetary requirement to create speech.  Speech within the context of the First Amendment would be ideas, opinions, arguments and evidence, and it can be as controversial and unpopular as human emotions allow.  Therefore by giving money to a campaign, the money itself can never be considered speech, but rather the ability of a candidate to speak to more people.   So there is no conflict in this law in considering individual contributions as neither speech by themselves, nor violating free speech as contained in the First Amendment.  The second type of contribution we will call corporate. In this group we put wealthy donors, special interest groups, vested individuals or groups in legislative outcomes, corporate lawyers, PAC’s, unions, lobbyists, lobbying companies, in fact any entity where the money they donate is designed to bring back a bigger return from the legislator, than the expense of the donation. Such donations will henceforth be called “investments.” Because the goal of contributions from the corporate group is to bring about a greater return to the contributor, than the cost of the contribution itself. And that is the definition of “commerce.”

What this bill would do is clarify and define two specific types of political contribution, and determine the subsequent regulation, court rulings, and future legislation that would come from this two tier definition.

Free Speech Donation: All such donations in this category would be considered under the protection of the First Amendment. They can not be regulated except as to the amount, say $2500 per individual. These can be freely given to the candidate under the assumption that the candidate owes the contributor nothing in return, except to fulfill to the best of their ability, the campaign promises and issue stands that caused individuals to donate in the first place.  For a donation to be considered in this category, it has to be individual, just as all rights are individual.  Any donation from a group, or more than one individual can not be considered in the category of rights, as groups come under contract law, commerce, and any number of other categories outside individual rights.

Corporate Donation: These include any soft money, PAC, and all other donations by the above groups, where there can be construed to exist a benefit to the donor for making the contribution. All such donations shall be considered as commerce, and are not subject to the protection of the First Amendment. The purpose of this separate designation is so that all such contributions and donations be regulated as commerce, as an investment, as expecting a greater return than the cost of the investment, be that return in any form such as monetary, regulatory, tax benefits, zoning, competition, subsidies, trade agreements, or any benefit to any entity making such investment, and shall have no relief in court, nor any other entity of government, as being speech, as everything in this category shall be considered as commerce.  Commerce, per the Commerce Clause states in Article I, Section 8, that Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce among the several states.  Which means Congress has jurisdiction over investments in any campaign for national office, as the effect of voting in Congress has national, not just state consequences.

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One comment

  1. BILL FETKE says:

    So then would Corporate donations be subject to taxes? Most candidates do not go thru the process to file as a non-profit, so if these monies are commerce, they should be subject to taxes.

    Instead of showing the donation as a PAC, how about making the candidate list the individual donors from that PAC on their campaign contribution page?

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