Saturday, July 13, 2013

Asking people to make contributions in "your name": the illegal practice still goes on

“Would you donate in another’s name?”  That’s the eye-catching title of an op-ed in the Washington Post Saturday, p. A13, by Colbert I. King.  The online title is narrower in focus, “Straw donors are part of D.C.’s corruption problem”, link here. 

Colbert outlines some situations, that are illegal under federal election law and District of Columbia law.  Your boss (or a “friend”) asks for permission to use your name for a political contribution.  Your boss hands you a money order for a political contribution and asks you to fill in your name.  Or your boss asks you to make a campaign contribution in your name, and reimburses you.

I guess this goes on a lot.

When I was working a “regular IT job”, employers generally had PAC’s, but I would not participate in them in any way, because I was writing books and later blogging on my own.  As I have covered before, I even considered it questionable to continue working in an company that focused on selling life insurance to military officers once I became publicly active in opposing “don’t ask don’t tell” in the 1990’s.

The idea of being asked to use your name on a political contribution is shocking to someone like me who values the independence of his own voice.  That was an issue that came up in the COPA trial in 2006.

The story also catches my eye because a decade ago there was controversy over whether bloggers could be considered as (inadvertently) making campaign contributions, which triggered a major incident for me (see July 27, 2007).

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