Like It or Not: Campaign Donations

Opinion piece by Jessica Szilagyi

The most expensive Congressional race in history is over, but the debate over how all that money was spent, and where it came from, is just beginning.

Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff are household names across the country because of the special election in Georgia's 6th district and the more than 50 million dollars they raised and spent.

For Ossoff, most of that money came from outside of Georgia, as Democrats in California, New York, and everywhere in between tried to strike a blow against President Trump.

While most of us are content to be rid of the endless commercials, mailers, and political prognosticating, many Georgians are suggesting there should be a law against what we just witnessed. They argue that political candidates shouldn't be allowed to accept donations from outside the district where they're running.

That is ridiculous for many reasons. 

For starters, it's unconstitutional. State and federal courts have repeatedly ruled that campaign donations are actually a form of "free speech" and therefore protected. Helping a candidate is a way to promote political ideas and change. We can all agree that there are many other ways to do that, but do we really want to be in the business of telling someone how they can play politics? 

The second problem is that given the transient lives we live, a person may live a great distance from where they work, or may own rental properties, or even send a child to school in a different location than their residence. Is a mailing address the only thing gives you a voice in the political arena?

Obviously not. 

Think about it from another perspective: Do you want the government to tell you what you can and cannot do with your own money? And how would you make the determination of having a "vested interest?" Is it a district? A region? A state? Or none of the above? Do you want your elected officials to make that determination? I don't.

Finally, politics are important, and it's reasonable to spend money on important things. Consider this: Americans spent $18 billion on Easter candy this year while the 2016 election cost less than a billion, so it's clear "important" things vary by person.

And most of the millions of dollars spent on commercials and campaign materials in this latest race did little to enlighten the public, but that's a different issue.