It’s no secret a large majority of Americans disagree with the Citizen United v. Federal Election Commission ruling. In the most recent polling by Bloomberg Politics in Sept. 2015, 79 percent of 1001 participants believed it was a bad decision.
No matter how many politicians we elect, or justices are appointed to overturn the ruling, campaign finance reform will still exist. It has been that way for over 150 years. Many politicians, including President Theodore Roosevelt, created legislation to keep corporations out of politics and expenditures public.
In a perfect world, this would not be an issue. Some would not have to worry about regulations on spending limits. Others would not be limiting free speech. People would use their votes, not their wallets, to show their support. But in reality, voters are uneasy wondering if their candidate and their Super PACs are receiving private donations from companies, both home and abroad, trying to sway their vote.
What if there was an alternative that would satisfy both sides of the aisle? A way to display the amount of funds and donations being contributed towards campaigns and PACs by not diminishing free speech… And this alternative could be through Ethereum’s technology.
Through the Ethereum blockchain, donations and spending would be easily accessible. The public would have an open view to which campaign, PAC, advisory group, and non-profit organizations are receiving these funds, especially the amount in one transaction.
Each of these groups will have one public address in order to collect these funds. This way the public can see if the groups are being honest about their donations, and not just the amount, but also who sends them. PACs and Super PACs are only required to publicize their donors if the donations are over $200. The blockchain would eliminate that limitation by disclosing the smaller contributions.
This method will also help compile reports of receipts and disbursements for the Federal Election Commission. As of now, a good amount of groups do not file these reports. This is especially true for Independent Expenditure-Only Committees, non-profit organizations or advisory groups that are not directly connected to a candidate, a campaign, or a political party. These committees give leeway to donors to give their funds privately. Ethereum can prevent this.
Independent Expenditure-Only Committees are just one example on why we need these funds public. Citizen United gave rise to multiple organizations, such as Super PACS and 501(c)(4) organizations, across the country to spend their funds outside of the campaigns. This logic is what upsets most Americans about the ruling. These organizations can use this money to influence campaigns and elections.
One of biggest issues Ethereum could solve are 501(c)(4) organizations. According to Internal Revenue Service, these organizations can collect money to promote social welfare. Through this classification, the advisory groups only need to report those who donate money for political purposes. However, they do not need to release donor information if the donation is unrelated to their cause. The lack of transparency with these organizations could easily be manipulating their numbers to keep certain donors in the dark. By keeping these donations on the blockchain, these organizations may be ordered to reveal their private donors.
It is clear that voters for both parties are fed up with the current system. They want a change. Ethereum could be that change. It could make a huge difference in the way we view our politicians and future candidates. The American people want to know if they are being manipulated into believing something for political gain. And putting these donations and contributions on the blockchain could help advance proper campaign finance reform.