In response to this challenge to their authority, a group of politicians turned to campaign-finance laws to silence Wilbur and Carlson. The theory is this: Radio airtime is valuable. So if a radio host expresses strong political views, that's a contribution, just as if a caterer were providing free food to the campaign's volunteers. Washington law limits contributions in the final three weeks of a political campaign to $5,000, so Wilbur and Carlson must shut up. Or at least the anti-tax group must count the minutes they talked about it on the air, assign some price to that and report that under campaign finance limits. Or something -- Mike Vaska, the lawyer acting as prosecutor, has suggested that if Wilbur and Carlson distanced themselves enough from the other people on their side, they'd be allowed to speak freely on the radio. Ironically, Vaska just happens to be a member of a big private law firm that stands to make big money off a higher gas tax -- maybe millions in legal fees -- $25,000 per bond backed by the tax. For some reason, Washington legislators seem to think that's OK. No one's telling him to shut up.
The political class protects its own.
Spending and speech limits are anti-democratic. Gene McCarthy said it well when he pointed out that the Founders pledged their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" to win the Revolution. They didn't say, "lives and fortunes up to $1,000."
We need more money, not less, spent on politics. What's spent on campaigns now is less than is spent advertising potato chips. Let the outsiders speak.
The politicians should not tell the people to shut up.
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