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On Rudman and the Future of Campaign Finance

Van Hollen has been the driver behind legislation that would require a disclosure report to be filed with the Federal Election Commission within 24 hours of any spending, and the filing of a new report every time another $10,000 or more is spent.

Van Hollen also has been the most tenacious prod to try to make the Federal Election Commission follow the intent and letter of the law with its regulations.

Price’s legislation would provide a 5-to-1 matching fund for the first $250 of contributions by individuals to presidential candidates and the first $250 of contributions by individuals to House and Senate candidates.

Candidates who participate in the system would have to pass a threshold by raising a base amount of such contributions and would be limited to individual contributions of half that of non-participants, or $1,250 at present. Parties could give unlimited funds to their candidates — provided the money they give to the candidates comes from a pool of contributions limited to $1,250 per donor per year. And candidates who bought into the system would have no spending limits on their campaigns, although there would be a limit on how much could come from the Treasury to fund the matches.

Let’s be honest: Enacting something like the Empowering Citizens Act would not magically transform our campaign finance world. But it would be a giant step toward tilting the balance in the direction of a more honest system and a more reasonable playing field.

I hope lawmakers of both parties, who have been alarmed, or at least made uneasy, by the 2012 campaign would take a careful look at it, and see it as a very positive and constructive step to make the broken system work better.

Norman Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

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