Full disclosure | AspenTimes.com

Full disclosure

The old joke goes, “The inmates are running the asylum.” It appears that is exactly what is happening this week in the U.S. Senate.

What we have is a bunch of Senators telling us how we are going to elect them. They are telling us what can be said, who can say it, when it can be said and how it can be financed. It makes no difference what side of the aisle it comes from.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., from the right or the McCain-Finegold bill from the left say essentially the same thing. If either plan is enacted, and it seems likely it will as President Bush says he will sign the recently passed bill, there will be a herd of lawyers who will find ways around it. Ultimately the Supreme Court is likely to strike down most of this bill as unconstitutional, a violation of the First Amendment.

The only long term finance reform that is likely to be effective is full and timely disclosure of all large donations say in excess of $10,000. The problem is not M.S. Rich or Enron and their millions, it’s the politicians who are willing to take the money from anyone looking for favors.

There will always be people like the Riches and companies like Enron who will attempt to buy favors and they will find ways to do it. Full disclosure would allow voters to understand who is giving the big bucks and to surmise what their motives might be, and then vote accordingly.

Dick Bird

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