`All the free speech big money can buy’


By Carl Hiaasen

Despite the public’s epidemic disgust with politicians, now would be a splendid time to run for office in this country.

That’s because the U.S. Supreme Court has made it infinitely easier for candidates to sell themselves to special interests, who in return will peddle those candidates to voters.

The court’s controversial decision allowing unions and corporations to spend as much as they want on political races essentially trashed a century of campaign-finance laws, saying they violated the constitutional right to free speech.

Of course, the five justices who signed the majority ruling have lifetime appointments to the high court, and will never have to run for office.

That means they won’t get to experience the challenge of trying to campaign against an opponent whose media attacks are anonymously funded by the telecommunications industry, or the banking lobby or the AFL-CIO.

Here in Florida, where oil companies are pushing hard for offshore drilling, the Supreme Court’s decision opens bountiful opportunities to incumbent officeholders and newcomers alike.

Although coastal drilling remains an unpopular concept in most beachside communities, any candidate for federal office who supports it could probably count on Exxon-Mobil or Shell to come up with some slick and persuasive commercials, which would be blared over and over and over . . .

The old campaign-finance laws had holes as wide as the Holland Tunnel, but there were limits. Now it’s a free-for-all.

Read more at the Miami Herald

Contact Carl Hiaasen at [email protected]

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