"Is security for a political fundraiser a campaign contribution?"


Reader Russ Dewey points toward a story in Chicago Business and asks, "Is security for a political fundraiser a campaign contribution?"

It's a fair question:

Prominent Democratic fundraiser William Brandt Jr. says his First Amendment rights are being trampled.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, he's challenging a Winnetka [Illinois] ordinance that requires sponsors of special events to get permits and reimburse the village for extra security and other costs.

It's a real problem for someone who wants to have the President or Vice President and a few $10,000-a-plate guests over for dinner, as he did when he hosted former President Bill Clinton at a 1996 fundraiser in his home….Mr. Brandt says the five-year-old ordinance violates his constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly, arguing in the suit "that the purpose of the ordinance is to dissuade speech and expressive activity with political content."

The Supreme Court has effectively ruled that "money is speech," he says in an interview, and "political speech can't be restrained at all."

As an aside, I wish I had more "real problems" that involved providing for $10,000 a plate pals.

More here.

And check out former Federal Election Commissioner Brad Smith's recent thoughts in Reason on campaign finance reform to puzzle over just what a mess such laws represent.