This man who believes money is speech also has Tourette’s

A Maine lobster and a possibly different Dan Backer

A Maine lobster and possibly different Dan Backer

Dan Backer is an activist for campaign finance reform who won McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court case that lifted aggregate limits on individual contributions to political campaigns. “Money in politics is great,” he told Marin Cogan of New York Magazine. “Restraints on political communication are fundamentally about protecting the status quo, and also about preventing people from having every bit of information they want to consume.”

Backer also has Tourette’s Syndrome. Showing remarkable restraint, Cogan puts this information in paragraph ten:

[Backer has] also helped organize the Stop Pelosi PAC and Stop R.E.I.D. PAC, and helps run the Conservative Action Fund, a tea-party group funded by Shaun McCutcheon. He is rarely the public face of these groups; Backer has Tourette’s syndrome, which causes facial tics and other TV-unfriendly gestures, like the tendency to gesture at you with both middle fingers as he’s speaking.

That’s a rich image. We often think of the claim that money can be speech as inherently disingenuous: you’d only believe that if someone paid you. The image of Backer delivering the Stockton heybuddy along with his argument must have been enormously tempting as a lead. Kudos to Cogan for not doing that, and for presenting Backer as someone who genuinely believes in his cause. I sure do disagree with him, though.

Supreme Court strikes down contribution limit

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

The Supreme Court ruled on McCutcheon v. FEC this morning, and American campaign finance restrictions got a little bit looser. I know what you’re thinking: finally, money can play some kind of role in electoral politics. In a 5-4 decision, the court overturned the individual aggregate limit on contributions to political parties, so you no longer need content yourself with donating a scant $48,000 to candidates every two years and $74,600 to party committees. Individuals can now give the parties of their choice as much money as they damn well please. As Chief Justice John Roberts put it, “there is no right in our democracy more basic than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”

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