Transparency first when it comes to political donations

Published 9:15 am Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Daily Herald editorial

We were glad to learn on Monday that the U.S. Court of Appeals’ 8th Circuit has upheld the Minnesota law that makes it possible for the public to know when corporations have spent money to influence an election. Voters – not to mention stockholders of public corporations – deserve to know when deep corporate pockets are being used to help or hinder a specific candidate.

Those who opposed the 2010 law – including Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life and the Taxpayers League of Minnesota – had argued that disclosing corporate support limited their right to free speech. It was a ridiculous argument, because Minnesota’s law in no way bars those groups, corporations or others from commenting on elections or candidates. All the law does is increase the transparency of the election process. Clearly this will be inconvenient for some big donors (several big retailers, many may recall, landed in hot water for supporting certain candidates during last fall’s elections). But inconvenience is one of the chief side-effects of open government and open elections.

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Minnesota legislators made an effort to craft a law that would pass the test of constitutionality. We’re glad it has stood up to that test. Every voter, indeed every citizen, will benefit.