Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s proposed legislation for campaign finance reform is unbelievably bad — so much so that no organization that supports it deserves to be referenced as a “good government group.” Here are its provisions:
- Require candidates to certify that they do not have any overdue campaign finance reports or own any fines, reminding potential candidates that, by running, they are setting themselves up for burdensome regulation requirements with real legal consequences and forbidding them to run for office if they slip up or object.
- Increase the immediate fine for late reports by a factor of four, from $25 to $100, increasingly the likelihood that busy Rhode Islanders who lose track of the annoying paperwork of running for office (or worry that they might do so) will ever run for any office.
- Increase the rate at which fines grow by a factor of five, from $2 per day to $10 per day, meaning that they’ll hit the new eye-popping cap for fines of $1,000 in just a few months, whereas under current law, although there is no cap, it would take almost a year and a half to reach that amount.
- Increase the base fine that the Board of Elections can charge for campaign finance violations by a factor of five, from $100 to $500.
- Give the Board of Elections incentive to impose fines by creating a restricted receipt account for its own use.
- By January 2019, begin “statistically random” audits (whatever that means) of one-quarter of all candidates for office who or PACs that raised or expended more than $10,000, creating a threshold over which candidates and PACs will seek not to cross, reducing their ability to compete with big, established political players.
- Apply all of the above fine and fee increases to ballot question advocates, meaning individuals or groups that advocate for particular issues that appear on ballots at any level of government
And then the kicker:
- Allow the state government to confiscate money from the campaign accounts of those who are convicted of (or plea on) felony corruption charges, with the judge deciding whether to use the money for the person’s campaign debts, to return it to donors, or simply to give it to the state government to spend.
Under the pretense of fighting corruption, insider politicians (including a woman with “war chest” valued at over a million dollars) are ensuring that the only people who’ll ever run for office at any level of government are those who expect to get something out of it, somehow. Who in their right minds would subject themselves to this level of risk just to do some good for their local communities or the state?
The farther this goes, the more we’re ensuring that we have a government of people who are corrupt and/or who aren’t in their right minds.