Campaign donations are free speech, period

The state of Minnesota has rules related to campaign finance that can only be described as onerous. They violate what is a clear right to free speech, as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The nation’s highest court, in a recent ruling, struck down the total cap on how much individuals can give to candidates, parties and political action committees. Why? Because campaign contributions are political speech, the kind of speech deemed most deserving of protection in our constitutional republic.

States like Minnesota allow donors to give to as many candidates as they choose, but the amount they can give to each is capped. In a strange, added complication, candidates for the Minnesota House, for example, can accept up to $1,000 from contributors, but once they collect $12,500 from these “special sources,” everyone who then contributes to the campaign can only give up to $500.

The Minnesota branch of the Institute for Justice, which is helping to challenge Minnesota’s campaign finance laws, scoffs at this weird system, in which the first 12 “special donors” in line get to contribute $1,000, but those who follow somehow lose an equal footing. What is the government’s compelling reason to create such a bizarre system?

We have to wonder the same thing. It makes no sense. Courts or lawmakers should scrap it. The best campaign finance rule is simple: Unlimited donations accompanied by full disclosure of who is giving how much to whom. End of story.