Are campaign finance laws worth it?

May 31st, 2012

John Edwards has been acquitted on one count, and mistrial has been declared on five other counts.

I renew a point I made earlier this year about my apathy towards campaign finance laws:

Anyway, I find it very hard to get worked up about Citizens United or any campaign finance case. Smart people who want to influence elections will find way to contribute money to candidates of choice. I don’t care if you call it a contribution or independent expenditure. I don’t care if you call it a PAC, a Super PAC, a Super Duper PAC, or whatever. They money will invariably flow. And if any mistakes are made, the politician will just apologize, return the money, and maybe pay a fine long after the campaign is over.

The Edwards trial, which admittedly I only followed cursorily (I’m apathetic about this stuff remember) reinforces this belief. Edwards couldn’t get away with an apology or paying a fine, but was charged with a serious federal offense. And the jury could not convict him on int.

I wonder if the United States will move for a retrial or like their wounds and give up? Well if the Roger Clemens trial is any predictor, they’ll double down.

Update: From Politico:

If you’re a sketchy or careless politician with an urge to tempt campaign finance law – well, go for it.

Odds are that you’ll get away with your misdeeds for years, dinged only by a paltry penalty – if any at all – well after the fact. And that’s assuming, perhaps foolishly, that today’s campaign laws are the same as those tomorrow.

Sen. John Edwards’ partial acquittal and mistrial Thursday on six criminal campaign finance violations is yet another example of the government’s limitations — even impotence — in strictly punishing politicos for perceived illegalities.

And notable election lawyers predict the Edwards verdict will disincentivize the government’s criminal prosecution of campaign finance matters that aren’t bona fide slam dunks.