Former UM Law Professor Rob Natelson Responds to Campaign Finance Ruling
Rob Natelson has some strong opinions when it comes to politics (he’s run to be Governor of Montana twice) and the constitution (he has worked as a lawyer, a constitutional law professor, and a contributor on constitutional issues to the Independence Institute).
So, it’s no surprise that Natelson had something to say about the recent ruling by Judge James Lovell in Lair vs Bullock, which struck down individual (and a host of other) campaign spending limits. I have printed with permission the following e-mail from Natelson, received within hours of Lovell’s ruling:
I saw your posting on Lair v. Bullock, and the invalidation of campaign contribution limits in Montana. If this is accurate and it holds, it is truly a major event. For years, the major players in state politics have rigged the campaign finance laws to better secure their own hold on power. For example, Montana’s exceptionally low contribution limits had the effect of exaggerating the influence of the government unions, whose contributions in labor and publicity were not counted against the limits. Similarly, mouth-to-mouth support or opposition spread by the “good old boy” network was not counted against the limits.
One result is that it has been very difficult for insurgent candidates, particularly conservatives, to break through with their own messages, unless they are personally wealthy. For example, they sometimes couldn’t raise the resources to respond to rumors or other claims that were made against them. (As a candidate, I had personal experience with this.)
Now a candidate with a few backers who believe in him will at least get a chance to be heard. The voters always will have the ultimate say, of course. And if experience proves one thing, it is that having money is no guarantee of electoral success. But now voters will have the advantage of hearing all sides before having to make their choice.