Huffington Post digs up Tom Cotton's college column on campaign finance | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Huffington Post digs up Tom Cotton's college column on campaign finance

Posted By on Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 7:48 AM

click to enlarge CRIMSON DAYS: Cotton's college column argued for campaign-finance transparency.
  • CRIMSON DAYS: Cotton's college column argued for campaign-finance transparency.
The Huffington Post’s Michael McAuliff tries to zing Tom Cotton with another old column from his days as a Harvard student, this one arguing for transparency in campaign funding. Nowadays, of course, the Cotton campaign is heavily reliant on “dark money.” Meh, this is kind of a reach, frankly. Here’s McAuliff: 

According to Democratic estimates, more than $5 million in outside money has already poured into the race against Pryor. The Washington Post reported that some $1.4 million from the Koch brothers-backed Americans For Prosperity has gone toward ad buys in Arkansas this cycle. The Sunlight Foundation, which tracks both sides, doesn't have the AFP cash, but does have some $2.5 million in spending about evenly split between the two candidates. Much of the cash for Cotton comes through the Club for Growth, which backed his House bid in 2012.

Judging from Cotton's old op-ed, one might imagine that he'd like to know — and would like for the public to know — who has donated all that money, and what they might want.

But like the money, the Cotton campaign was similarly dark when asked by The Huffington Post Monday if the congressman still had the same views.

If he did, he might consider backing the Senate's DISCLOSE Act, which doesn't undo the Supreme Court's Citizen's United ruling, but does require disclosure of donations above $10,000, setting up a system rather like the one Cotton advocated as a student.

Republicans in the Senate filibustered that bill, so Cotton likely would have been with them.

The hypocrisy charge here, such as it is, is not very strong. Here's the Harvard Crimson column, written when Cotton was a junior. Young Cotton wanted to end campaign-finance regulation and limits on campaign contributions altogether, and hoped to couple that with undefined additional transparency requirements (Cotton's pitch was that campaign-finance laws limiting contributions only served to re-direct funding to "dark money"). Seventeeen years later, Candidate Cotton (like others) benefits from loads of money from various groups that don’t disclose information about their donors, plus probably he opposes the DISCLOSE act, though we don't know for sure. Well, okay. As I said: meh.    

In any case, it goes without saying that Cotton's teenage scribblings are not a very good way to determine what sort of senator Cotton would be. His record wilI suffice. I do think old writings of a public figure are kind of interesting, but my main takeaway is that I personally find the oddball, mannered intellectual Cotton that occasionally pops up in these college writings more engaging than the robo-candidate of today. What happened to the guy churning out sentences like this: "The Democrats' guile depicts not lawlessness but unseemliness"? Unseemly! I'm not the target audience, obviously, but it would have been more fun if Cotton went for a William F. Buckley-in-fatigues vibe rather than the creepy talking-point machine spying on poor people at grocery stores. Oh well. 

As to the campaign-finance issue, college-age Cotton was right on the merits that the American electoral system needs more transparency regarding donations to campaigns. Advocates of campaign-finance reform would likely disagree with the column regarding unlimited direct contributions, but I think there's an argument to be made that strict disclosure laws are more achievable and enforceable (both legally and logistically) than attempts to cap donations. The DISCLOSE Act would be a good start (Pryor supported it, Cotton hasn't commented). 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by David Ramsey

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • In the margins

    A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight.
  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.
  • Arkansans join House vote to gut Americans with Disabilities Act

    Despite fierce protests from disabled people, the U.S. House voted today, mostly on party lines, to make it harder to sue businesses for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course Arkansas congressmen were on the wrong side.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation