Re-posted from the Center for Political Accountability
With prospects for action nil by Congress and the Trump administration, going outside the political system through a process known as “private ordering” is the only route to campaign finance reform and reining in the power and influence of corporate political money. That’s the takeaway from a forthcoming article — “Campaign Finance Reform without Law?” — by Robert Yablon, a University of Wisconsin Law professor, in the Iowa Law Review.
Prof. Yablon lays out an alternative approach that, he says, is having an impact. Indeed, it is making political disclosure and accountability the norm for S&P 500 companies. This is important because corporations are the dominant funders of congressional and down-ballot races.
Yablon challenges reliance on legislation and regulation to address big money in elections. “The presumption that reform requires government action overlooks potential private correctives,” he writes. “Whether the aim is to reduce big money, dilute big money’s influence, or counter abuses associated with big money, this Article suggests that private ordering has an important role to play.” Indeed, he says later in the paper, “… if government action is not forthcoming, then private reform may be the only game in town.”
The paper mentions “Advocacy groups like the Center for Political Accountability, for example, [that] have led a coordinated push for greater transparency and accountability in corporate political spending through shareholder activism.”
While Yablon acknowledges the constraints faced by private ordering, he concludes, “Private interventions are already having at least a modest ameliorative effect on big money’s electoral influence and entrepreneurial reformers could be well positioned to make further headway.”
Yablon brings expert credentials to the debate. He studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
This post will be updated with a link to Professor Yablon’s full article when it becomes available.