Montana is making news faster than I can have opinions about it. No sooner do I write a fun Indy column praising Judge Charles Lovell for striking down our campaign finance laws than he strikes them up again. It was satirical while it lasted. Probably, mooting one column is worth it to restore some limit on what political parties can give to candidates’ campaigns, as Lovell did today. With a heavy heart, I suspend my campaign for comptroller or whatever. I will still accept unlimited donations from political parties, but they’ll have to be in cash.
You can’t hear it, but someone is lazily picking a banjo. The buffalo no longer roam, having decided one place is as good as another. The deer and the antelope play video games. Montana politics is sleepy, so sleepy. But then look what happens: a federal judge rules unconstitutional several elements of our campaign finance law. Suddenly, the dog sits up. As of Tuesday afternoon—three weeks before the primaries—political parties can contribute unlimited amounts to individual candidates. Judge Charles Lovell’s ruling seems to indicate that limits on donations from individuals and corporations are lifted as well, but Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl believes he must only revert to the limits in place before the ones Lovell struck down, in 1994.
Anyway, the last time this law was briefly overturned—for nine days in 2012—Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill accepted a $500,000 donation. Our easy slumber may have just been broken. I, for one, welcome the impending rush of cash into Montana politics. The 2016 campaign needs a shot of adrenaline. Why, just this week in the Missoula Independent, I wrote about how Bullock versus Gianforte has been a clash of tepid negatives. But the potential for political action committees of all kinds to
spend unlimited amounts of money say unlimited amounts of speech ensures a vigorous exchange of ideas. So pander to me, boys. I’m all napped up.
The Supreme Court ruled today on the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions from new power plants, and if you’ve gotten to this half of the sentence I presume you are a daily reader. Welcome back. The Supreme Court has ruled, importantly, that the EPA either can or cannot curb greenhouse emissions the way it wants. It depends on whom you ask. I first learned of this decision from the LA Times, which reported that Supreme Court limits EPA authority on power plants. Then, balance-seeking perspicator that I am, I read in the other Times that Justices, With Limits, Let E.P.A. Curb Power-Plant Gases. A computer would tell you those sentences say the same thing.