Politician confuses political contribution limits with political spending limits

Cuyahoga County Councilperson Michael Gallagher recently wrote an OpEd on cleveland.com on campaign reform that was meant to take the other side of my OpEd a few days earlier.

His OpEd is at http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2013/08/limiting_campaign_donatons_to.html

Mine is at http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2013/08/cuyahoga_county_council_missed_1.html

I called for County Council to enact (among other provisions) political contribution limits — regulating the amount of money any one person or entity can contribute to a political campaign. Many communities, states, even the federal government, limit the size of contributions to political campaigns. At the county level, political contribution limits have been proposed by several groups over the past few years, ever since the County Charter first went into effect.

The major topic of Mr. Gallagher’s OpEd, however, isn’t campaign contribution limits at all. It’s campaign spending limits — a completely different issue.

Limiting political spending means limiting or capping the total amount of money candidates can spend on their elections — regardless of how much money they have raised from whatever sources.

Mr. Gallagher claims those who’ve advocated for campaign reform at the county level have been in favor of political spending limits or caps. Not true. We’ve advocated contribution limits.

That’s a profound difference.

The difference is the courts have said limiting most types of contributions is OK but limiting spending is not. County Council has the power and authority to establish reasonable political contribution limits. They have zero power and authority, however, to set political spending caps.

Mr. Gallagher is confused. In his defense, the whole issue of campaign reform can be downright mind-numbing.

On the other hand, we as citizens can’t afford to be confused.

Money talks. The voices of those who donate/invest large amounts to political campaigns drown out the voices of those without money.

We have to be clear that Council can take action to enact reasonable contribution limits, as limiting as they may be as I say in my OpEd. Will they take action? If they do, they must first understand the difference between political contribution and spending limits.

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