Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
November 24, 2013
It should come as no surprise that this editorial cartooning thing comes easiest when something really and truly ticks you off. Such is the case when Secretary of State Ruth Johnson recently proposed that Michigan consider some transparency in the financing of so called “issue ads” (Issue ads are those campaign spots that can serve up whatever slanderous bile they want so long as they don’t endorse a candidate. And as a bonus for being slimy, they don’t have to reveal who paid for the ad.) The Supreme Court left it up to the states to decide whether the money source must be revealed. Many states require it. At this point, Michigan does not.
And it doesn’t look likely that Michigan will. Because almost immediately after Johnson floated the transparency idea, Senator Arlan Meekhof and senate leader Randy Richardville rammed through a bill to do exactly the opposite — keep the revenue sources anonymous and then doubling the amount allowed to be given. The defense for this (and a rather cynical one at that) is free speech or the claim that donation sources need to be hidden because otherwise those who make them might feel uncomfortable. First, I’m sure they type who have the likes of Senator Meekhof do their bidding are plenty lawyered up to deal with the consequences of being revealed. Second, is it not a virtue to stand up for what you believe in?