Limit political contributions, not unions

March 05, 2011

Your editorial ("A modest proposal for Gov. Walker," March 4 ) is right on point. You indicated that unions are not the problem but the political power they wield is. That political power is derived largely from their contributions to politicians. You also point out that political contributions from groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other corporate interests are exactly the same relating to their influence on elected officials. However your solution — publicly financed campaigns — while potentially addressing the situation, is not doable in today's environment and economy.

I believe considering the existing law, the Supreme Court was right in saying in the Citizens United case that political contributions equate to free speech. What is missing from the law are limits on that element of free speech. Free speech can be limited. For example, one cannot yell fire in a crowded theater. Similarly, I cannot contribute unlimited funds to a candidate or cause. I am limited to the amount I can contribute. Unions and groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, other PAC's and slates of candidates are not limited.

While it is no panacea, it would help if the law placed the same limits on contributions of groups as they do on individuals. I would urge the state of Maryland to enact legislation in this session that merely substitutes the word "individual" with the word "entity" in the campaign finance law that limits contributions to a certain amount. This would make you and me equal to any multimillion dollar organization or individual in their speech and influence.

Mel Mintz, Pikesville

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