At a time when proponents of stricter campaign finance regulations continually howl about the increasing costs of political campaigns, you would think that a grassroots political group would be applauded for trying to keep costs down. But according to a Washington Post story released late last week, the organizers of a write-in campaign for former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty may soon be fined $18,500 for violating campaign finance laws.
Their crime? Recycling.
It seems that the Save D.C. Now Committee “used unused campaign signs, leaflets and stickers to try to get voters to write in Fenty instead of supporting [Vincent] Gray.” The materials were left over from Fenty’s unsuccessful primary campaign.
Gray’s campaign lawyer responded by filing a campaign finance complaint against the group. “They alleged that campaign finance laws forbid a political community [sic] from using materials paid for by another.”
Regardless of the legal merit of these allegations, this is yet another example of how campaign finance laws—ostensibly passed to limit the “corrupting” influence of big money on politics—make genuine grassroots political campaigning virtually impossible. The Save D.C. Now Committee raised a grand total of $7,000. They are now being fined more than twice that, and for what? For not letting perfectly usable political signs and stickers go into the garbage.
The Office of Campaign Finance still has an opportunity to reverse this ridiculous fine. Here’s hoping they do.
Image source: TheTruthAbout