Generally speaking, we believe that more disclosure is better than less disclosure in politics. This applies both to how politicians behave in office and the money they raise to run for office.
We support full disclosure of those groups and individuals who can spend enough money to truly influence elections. According to Politico, the top two donors in the country (Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg) contributed more than $100 million in the 2014 elections alone. In fact that top 100 donors gave $323 million, almost as much as the $356 million given by the 4,750,000 small donors.
If an individual or group is giving that kind of money we believe all efforts should be made to let the voters know who is behind the campaigns being run. The citizens are then best equipped to determine if they believe a particular donor stands to benefit from a particular candidate winning. Even giving every donor the benefit of the doubt that they are motived by their ideology, this gives each citizen the ability to determine if they agree or disagree with that philosophy and vote accordingly.
However, while there are great benefits to disclosure of large donors, some small donors may be uneasy getting involved by giving a few hundred dollars for the first time for fear of perceived reprisals or loss of privacy.
The current $200 limit above which a campaign must disclose its contributors has not kept pace with inflation. Such a low limit may discourage political contributions from the fear that a person’s political contributions may become public. Just as voting is secret, so small contributions should be secret to avoid the potential of retaliation by employers, unions, or others for political contributions. And a low limit increases the compliance burdens on candidates’ campaigns, which discourages new candidates from running for election. We suggest raising the limit for campaigns for Federal office to $500 to reflect the original intention of those who enacted this rule that small contributions from ordinary Americans be exempt from public disclosure.