"Bush’s campaign operation has taken steps to conceal the names of certain big-money donors. ... Bush’s Right to Rise also formed a 501(c)(4) issue advocacy wing, which, like a Super PAC, can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money — but unlike a Super PAC, never has to reveal donor names."This leads me to ask two questions:
- Should billionaires be allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money promoting their politics?
- If they can spend unlimited amounts, should they be forced to disclose them?
If you know me, you know that I'm asking a trick question. I'm not referring to venture capitalist Ron Conway, the billionaire mentioned the story. I'm instead referring to Pierre Omidyar the billionaire founder of eBay who funds The Intercept, which blatantly promotes his political views such as those on NSA surveillance. Can Omidyar spend endless amounts on The Intercept? Should he be forced to disclose how much?
This question is at the heart of the Supreme Court decision in Citezen's United. It comes down to this: the Supreme Court was unable to craft rules that could tell the difference between what Omidyar was doing with The Intercept, and what Jeb Bush is doing with his Super PAC. Yet, restricting Omidyar is also not an option -- despite being clearly political, he's nonetheless acting like a typical press organization. As they opinion says:
Differential treatment of media corporations and other corporations cannot be squared with the First Amendment, and there is no support for the view that the Amendment’s original meaning would permit suppressing media corporations’ political speech.As a libertarian, I think Omidyar should be free to use his slush fund for The Intercept as he pleases, without having to report the amounts. However, I still believe it's in the public interest. Nobody wants to live in a plutocracy, so all info about the rich and powerful is of public interest. If Anonymous doxxes it, or an employees leaks it, then the information is fair game, and should be reported on in exactly the same way that The Intercept discloses the Snowden leaks.