Senator Merkley full page ad is more than an ad

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon

On Wednesday, January 11th, The Protect Democracy Project, put out a full page advertisement in The Oregonian.  The ad placed by the Protect Democracy Project, thanked Senator Jeff Merkley for approving the Electoral Count Reform Act.

We cite this advertisement, not just to show who is making big political advertising buys in the off campaign season, but to also note that such full-page thank you ads are common in our local newspapers.   Senator Ron Wyden and former Governor Kate Brown have recently had such ads in The Oregonian.   This is important to remember if Oregon adopts strict campaign finance laws.  Campaign finance advocates wish to make it illegal for people like you and I to contribute more than $100 to a candidate.  Yet, $40,000 full page ads praising a sitting politician for everyday activities would remain legal.   So, everyday voters will be censored and have their Free Speech reduced to bread crumbs, but big private corporations and out-of-state non-profits will be able to spend unlimited amounts of ad money praising sitting politicians.  These ads are not seen as direct lobbying nor as campaign funding (therefore would be exempt from campaign finance limits) even though such ads have similar impact and results.   Interestingly, a non-sitting politician running for office against Senator Merkley would likely not be able to have the same corporations run ads in his/her favor because they are just a candidate (and not an elected official) and therefore any ad would be considered a campaign contribution and therefore be illegal.   If this sounds complex — it is.  That is why campaign finance limits on free speech are bad for political participation.

Campaign finance proponents will sell voters on a utopian promise to remove money from politics.   It will definitely remove YOUR money from politics but not corporate money.  Corporate money will not be removed from politics but will likely be moved around to different activities like the full-page advertisement we just witnessed.

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