"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.

NEXT: Paul Poirot, R.I.P.

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  1. So the lawmakers in Winnetka are saying this:

    When local police provide extra security for a presidential candidate, that expense amounts to a forced contribution from all local taxpayers.

    Interesting. I wonder how many other cities have that sort of law.

    And who decides which candidates get police protection? The Secret Service protects the president and any primary winner of the Democratic or Republican party, but no candidate of any other party.

  2. Can you imagine the cops doing security at an event for an LP candidate?

    “No, sir, we don’t allow concealed firearms around the candidate. No, that laminated copy of the Second Amendment does not constitute a license to carry.”

    “Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to run your ferret through the xray machine.”

    “No, sir, you can’t carry your sword at the rally, even if you are going to a live action role playing game afterward.”

    “No, I won’t turn off the surveillance cameras.”

    “Sir, the dog is sniffing traces of a controlled substance on you. Would you mind handing over the brownies?”

    “Sir, I don’t think it’s your piercings that are setting off the wand. The metal detector is picking up something from inside your…ok, that’s more than I wanted to see.”

    “No, I won’t be refunding the portion of your taxes that went to my salary.”

    “Sir, I’m not discriminating on the basis of color. Look, even if blue people are a protected class under the Civil Rights Act, I still need to confiscate those drugs.”

  3. How is bribing legislators free speech? Petitioning one’s governmet is done with words, not money.

  4. #36: To promote the progress of libertarian ideals, I’d ban the Libertarian Party.

  5. Gollum, gollum.

  6. Meanwhile Ubited Arab Emirates “free speech” advocates have managed to “free-speech-ify” their government owned corporation into controlling US ports.

    With almost zero outrage on the part of media or the public.

    Will minimum wage illegal aliens from the middle east now be in charge of inspecting shipping containers for nuclear weapons?

  7. Will minimum wage illegal aliens from the middle east now be in charge of inspecting shipping containers for nuclear weapons?

    Sure, just like all Toyota salesman are Japanese.

    Please go away.

  8. amazingdrx

    It’s not. It’s just that Buckley v Valeo says it is. That case equated giving money with free speech. Assinine as hell, but here we are. It was a case won by hardened Washington insiders and power brokers, who foresaw how much gain there was to convincing the world that giving money to people was free speech (thus affording it protection not available to commercial transactions). Even if under no other circumstance would we come close to thinking this so. Example: buying thumb tacks at Wal Mart isn’t an exercise of speech, it’s just buying thumb tacks (a transaction solely governed by the Uniform Commercial Code)… unless I’m giving money to a campaign manager to buy them to hang Candidate X posters. Then, magically, it is free speech, and the First Amendment (and a host of bizarro campaign laws) suddenly takes over.

    Never mind that no idea or viewpoint inheres anywhere in a 20 dollar bill, or a money order, or a wire transfer, or a check (though theoretically you could author a brief polemic on the “memo” line).

  9. “all Toyota salesman are Japanese”

    So you like the “contracting with america (bend over)”.

    Recently a US border guard was found to be mexican and working for drug cartels. He was back ground checked by a “contractor with america”. Instead of the pre-neo-corpoRATist method of having the FBI do the checks.

    Who will be checking the UAE “contractor with america”‘s hiring choices for port security?

    All this lobbyist “free speech” “contracting with america” needs to be checked into. Especially in cases of homeland security.

    Put jack..(abram)..off and the exterminator in gitmo, maybe the taxpayers can get their money’s worth from it before it’s closed down. Teach these “free speech” advocates how to waterboard.

  10. “Buckley v Valeo says it is”

    And maybe 80% of the thought processes of neo-libertarians dwell on that concept. They dream of becoming think tank “free-speech-if-fiers” for big bucks.

    Thus turning the equation around.. they speak freely..and the money flows down upon them.

    Grover Norquist the hero of neo-libertarianism!

  11. “all Toyota salesman are Japanese”

    That’s a good smoker, feel free to light up anytime. Do yout part to save social secirity, die young.

  12. Thanks for changing the subject, drx.

    Personally, if we’ve got freedom of speech AND everything is speech, isn’t this a good thing? Or do you hate our freedom, drx?

  13. Editor: Please insert random, illogical, and ungrammatical rant here.

  14. Meanwhile Ubited Arab Emirates “free speech” advocates have managed to “free-speech-ify” their government owned corporation into controlling US ports.

    Yeah, I mean “we” shoulda given it to a good all-American like Halliburton.

    With almost zero outrage on the part of media or the public.

    No, the usual crew of nativist zenophobes have shown plenty of outrage. Strangely enough most of the people have enough sense to ignore them.

  15. “Editor: Please insert random, illogical, and ungrammatical rant here.”

    john: when did you change your handle?

    or is that you, josh c.?


    and just ignore amazing – it’s the web version of penicilin. ha ha.

  16. Hey, VM!

    I finally found the Hebrew edition of “Heather Has Two Mommies”. Me an’ the Louis Brandeis blowup doll are gonna have a look-see tonight.

  17. oh my. mercy.

    make sure you’re circumsized. Herrik will be happy to take care of it for you!

  18. Shit, VM, I’ve been keepin’ the covenant since day 1.

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


  20. Easy way to solve this. Don’t supply police forces. As a private event for political purposes, the candidate should be required to hire his own security forces if he feels he needs the security. I am sure he could get them at a better rate than what the city would charge him for police overtime anyhow.

  21. The mob mentality here has eclipsed the dialogue.

    Too many cutesy nickname games, offensive gender remarks, and mindless talking point attacks drive away thoughtfull, original thinkers.

    Without them the usual gang of geeks and dweebs have no one to insult and play off of.

    Good luck with all that.

  22. “Is security for a political fundraiser a campaign contribution?”

    Of course it is.

    The real question is whether campaign contributions should be restricted by the state. It is only when you answer this question in the affirmative that you wade into the swamp of trying to categorize and discriminate amongst the infinite variety cash and in-kind, direct and indirect, contributions.

  23. that’s okay. steven crane will clean the mark off the door as it hits you in the ass on your way outta here.

    and it’s been… um… buh bye.

  24. Too many cutesy nickname games … and mindless talking point attacks

    Comment by: amazingdrx of “duuuubya-tarianism” (sic) fame

    Aaagh! My irony bladder is suddenly full to the bursting point! Must run to the Little Ironicists’ Room for a pee ASAP!

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