Friday, February 7, 2014

Goldsmith Politicizes The Campaign Finance Board

Gary W. Goldsmith is the Executive Director of the Minnesota Campaign Finance & Disclosure Board ("CFB"). He makes, as of 2012, $92, 417 per year and has been with the CFB for a Phyllis Kahn-like 19 years and counting. His salary is $51, 276 higher than the average for all Minnesota state employees. Let's start dealing with income inequality in the parasitical public sector before those who could never make it in the private start lecturing the rest of us.

CFB Boards of Directors come and go; Goldsmith remains, head of the permanent bureaucracy whose raison d'ĂȘtre is to manage, if not stifle, our 1st Amendment freedom of political speech. I can't fault him, exactly, for believing in doing what he does. I can, however, fault him for doing it in the manner he has, which is with an unassuming arrogance and a sure knowledge of unaccountability.

Goldsmith is a confirmed, featured speaker at a DFL, left-wing, government management festival hosted by the definition-of-unimpressive Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. The HHH School, as it is known, is run by Prof. Larry Jacobs, a laughing-stock on social media for his mindless parroting of all things DFL and his imperviousness to any pretense of fairness or integrity. Jacobs is to preside over this farce masquerading as concern for the public when, in fact, the agenda being pushed is to punish political speech--and the manner of its transmission--with which the organizers disagree.

You can find the program for the event by clicking here.

Political speech kommissars also include  Speaker of the House Paul Thissen, who is scheduled to speak for a mind-numbing 45 minutes. One can only guess at the number of platitudes and non-sequiturs that can be squeezed in during that amount of time. Doubtless he'll be up to the task.

There is also going to be a "debate" between Rep. Sanders (GOP), Rep. Simon (DFL) and Sen. Sieben (DFL) about what only God knows, the program guide giving no guidance. This effort in futility will be moderated by the never open-minded Lori Sturdevant of the increasingly irrelevant Star Tribune newspaper.

A 15 minute break follows, presumably to give oxygen to the suffocated audience so they can be propped up for what follows, which is dreadful indeed.

"Elections for Sale: Where's the Outrage?" This is rubbish but don't expect the liberals who have put this together, and who will constitute the overwhelming majority of the audience in attendance, to believe anything but that. To the outrage barricades! For Minnesota liberals, it's always the Paris Commune 1871. Or Selma 1968. Or Haight-Ashbury in the worst decade known to this country, the cancerous 1960's.

Brought in to lead the group in putting their dresses over their easily frightened heads is a Trevor Potter, the director of the not-widely known Campaign Legal Center. Gigs like this, and a relentless assault on political speech via regulation by bureaucrats, apparently constitutes the man's life work. I'd rather chose suicide but to each their own (he's a former FEC commissioner, the CFB writ hideously large). Something at this point is going to be moderated but the program offers no clue except the moderators will be yet another employee of the Star Tribune and the nutty professor, Larry Jacobs. The leftist tilt of the proceeding is irrefutable although it was pointed out that Rep. Sanders is a republican. That's like saying John McCain is a republican: it actually proves my point of viewpoint tilt and bias.

Mr. Potter is also an ersatz republican but in these sorts of proceedings the party label is not at all dispositive. What we have here, as in so many tedious & intellectually shallow academic proceedings, is a dearth of diversity of ideas. Who on that panel is going to challenge a single premise of this event? Not a one. That's how they like it. Potter actually worked for John McCain and--can't make it up--is a reporter for the Colbert Report. Yes, such a person is being brought in on your tax dime to exhort the ruling class into limiting your speech rights even further in Minnesota.

Finally, the confab ends with the ridiculous Erin Murphy, Majority Leader of the Minnesota House, giving a 15 minute harangue titled "A Call to Action." What do we do? Jump up and down? Blow whistles? Shake our fist at the man? Dress up as vaginas?

I haven't the slightest idea but why does Goldsmith disgrace the CFB by participating in a nakedly partisan event? He's been there 20 long years; clearly it's time for him to leave and another Executive Director be appointed. Terms for that position should be limited to two, two year terms. So much of Minnesota is stale (the arts, the media, the political milieu) that I feel like I live in a state suspended in amber.

The preface to the event gives the game away:

"Our democracy is awash in money."

          Nonsense. More money is spent on advertising gum each year than in the presidential elections. This is a dearly held but specious premise by the Left. It must be asserted as a harm because otherwise they can't appoint themselves to micro-manage your political speech. The approach is fundamentally fascist.

"Minnesota has a history as a national leader in fending off big money in election campaigns but is now threatened by large infusions of cash out of the sight of voters."

          If the former statement were ever true, and Minnesotans can't be beaten at believing good things about themselves, it no longer is. The latter part of the statement is asserted entirely without evidence. Even the reflexively liberal Star Tribune could not help but report recently that the money in this state flows from Alida Rockefeller and a few other bored dilettantes, both inside and outside Minnesota. Even so, I've defended, nay applauded, her and others' rights to use money politically without much government regulation. The idea that anything is threatened by "large infusions of cash" is more fear mongering and have you ever met more scared people--about anything and everything--than your typical liberal? Then again, if liberals looked at both evidence and outcomes they could no longer be liberals; they're thought-proof, the rare David Mamets to one side.

"As the Minnesota Legislature convenes in 2014, it is time to update state law to shine the bright light of public disclosure on campaign money."

          Why now? Because the DFL still controls both chambers and the CFB is seeking something like a million dollar increase in its budget, which is quite large for a group that consists mostly of make work. Apparently, Goldsmith is throwing in with those powers whom he believes can deliver the cash. It's rather unseemly but hypocrisy comes with liberal territory.

Don't be confused: the goal of this liberal assault on political speech is to ferret out donors to independent expenditure committees and other groups that do not and should not have to disclose their donors. The speech mandarins pretend this is to avoid confusion on the part of the voters but it is not; they're the only ones who think voters are this stupid.

The real goal is to apply public pressure to businesses and individuals from contributing in the first place. Yet people have a right to associate and to donate without their membership being revealed. This was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court when it refused to allow the state of Alabama from forcing the disclosure of members and donors of the NAACP (NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958)).

Congratulations, DFL & CFB: you're the latter day incarnation of Jim Crow Alabama!

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 10A gives the CFB the ability to make recommendations to the legislature but that's an ability it should use sparingly and wisely. Instead, Goldsmith's appearance at the clown show put on by the risible Larry Jacobs erodes public confidence that the board is impartial. This confidence is hanging by a thread, currently, given the refusal of the CFB to meet in open session when considering whether to fine the DLF senators who conspired together to, essentially, steal the election in 2012. The DFL Senate Caucus was fined $100,000 for their corruption. The public was deemed unworthy of knowing what deliberations the Board undertook in letting the unethical individual senators off the financial hook because it met in executive session, closed to the public and press. This is corruption by another name. The CFB should never meet in executive session except when getting legal advice or being updated by staff on an ongoing investigation.

Transparency is desired except when Goldsmith & the Board support clear, partisan objectives. They cheerfully and sanctimoniously exempted from disclosure a donor who worked for a Catholic organization who wanted to donate to a pro same sex marriage group in 2012. The CFB makes a case by case exemption in favor of policy outcomes they support but this isn't fair or just. No matter.

Now Goldsmith has thoroughly politicized the CFB, almost to the point of no return. He should not participate in the HHH event if he wants to have any credibility with the legislature or, far more importantly, the public that he ostensibly serves.