RNC Dispatch: Calls for Transparency

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After two days of being in Tampa and interacting with a bunch of people, the most surprising tidbit I've noticed is that all the Republicans I've talked to were in favor of full donor transparency for political organizations.

There was a spread of positions on spending limits. Some felt there should be none at all. And others felt that there should be limits on what organizations, businesses, unions and the like can donate — but fewer or no limits on individual donations.

The two most interesting interviews I've done on this issue so far have been with Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics — the organization that runs the political funding data info site OpenSecrets.org — and Saul Anuzis, who ran for the RNC chair a few years ago, and chaired the Michigan Republican Party.

Krumholz and her organization are aligned with the majority of the country in their belief in transparency, saying all organizations that spend money on influencing an election should have to disclose all of their donor information.

Anuzis, who could hardly be more of a partisan Republican, believed people should be able to donate as much as they want, but the organizations that spend that money for political purposes should have to very quickly report those donations.

Oddly enough, it was moderate syndicated radio host Alan Nathan that supported no limits on donations and donor secrecy. He is the with 20 percent or so in polls who believe political donors should be treated like an anonymous author - believing that political donating should be treated as free speech.

Like the super-supermajority that believes donations should be fully transparent, I think that anyone who wants to wade into the political arena, either through speaking or acting or by spending money, should do so out in the open. I can understand the position of those that equate spending with speech, but that just plain doesn't make any sense to me, and even more Republicans agree with me.

There aren't too many things where we can make progress on money in politics issues, but this is one of them. If Republican rank-and-file types were able to put enough pressure on quarter of their representatives to join with Democrats, and make sure that the bill is balanced, I think we'd all benefit.