Public Nuisance

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The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Thursday, June 27, 2002
 
The Washington Post describes an attempt by the RNC to get double mileage out of its suit against McCain/Feingold. While trying to get the law overturned, it is also using the suit to force pro-Democratic political groups to reveal their internal planning.

The Republican National Committee has issued subpoenas to a wide range of liberal and Democratic-leaning interest groups, demanding detailed financial records, internal communications and strategic political documents as part of its battle against the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

Groups that received the subpoenas, which were issued last week, include the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, the National Education Association, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and EMILY's List....
The RNC demands represent the most aggressive step to date in an escalating battle between opponents and proponents of the McCain-Feingold bill, with both sides seeking voluminous records, dating back years, from party committees and interest groups.

James Dyke, RNC press secretary, defended the subpoenas, contending that "we are not asking them for anything broader than we have been asked. Organizations that believe in their causes and have nothing to hide should be proud to disclose their political donors because the core of any legitimate campaign reform should be the full disclosure of the financial activity of those involved in the political process."

Responding to Michelman's claim that the RNC was engaging in a political strip search, he said, "We have been al fresco for over a decade with monthly reports of our federal and non-federal receipts."

Dyke said the purpose of the RNC subpoenas was to prove that the new campaign finance law violates the equal protection laws of the Constitution by allowing special-interest groups to continue to raise and spend "soft money" -- large, federally unregulated contributions -- and conduct other activities that the national parties are prohibited from doing.

Shocking as it may be, the Republican spokesliar doesn't seem to be telling the entire truth. The RNC is required to file publicly extensive records on the sources of its bribes financial contributions, but certainly not "internal communications and strategic political documents".

The last paragraph, less than convincing, is the only claim attempted to find some vague relevance of the fishing expedition to the litigation issues. And if indeed the subpoenas were intended only to develop evidence that special interest groups carry out activities the law forbids parties, there's no reason for the subpoenas to be issued only to groups that support Democrats.

As for Mr Dyke's proud assertion of the GOP's long tradition of being "al fresco" in financial disclosure, the Nuisance's soi dissant usage experts, when asked for an ad hoc translation to au naturel English, responded en masse, "Que?"



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