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NRI Ideas Summit

David French and David Keating Warn of Dangers of House Dems’ Election-Reform Plan

David French and David Keating at the National Review Institute 2019 Ideas Summit

Is a crafty misnomer obscuring the dangers of a sweeping campaign-finance-reform proposal?

David Keating of the Institute for Free Speech joined senior National Review writer David French Thursday at National Review Institute’s 2019 Ideas Summit to discuss the stakes of the For the People Act, or H.R. 1, House Democrats’ campaign-finance-reform plan.

The bill promises “to expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes.” But on Thursday, French and Keating warned that it could compromise donor privacy, which is protected under the First Amendment.

The For the People Act should really be called the “For the Politicians Act,” Keating argued.

“Elected officials want less speech,” he said. “When you raise money from people, a lot of people do not want their name on the Internet. They’re going to say, ‘Why should I give money?'” Keating predicted of the plan’s effect. “I think that’s where we’re going to lose speech . . . people are just going to say ‘no.'”

French called the proposal “unfair” and “grotesquely unconstitutional,” adding that it would constitute an “extreme intrusion” into private life and effectively treat political speech as “second-class speech.”

“There are parts of H.R. 1 that are so broad that . . . I call them government doxxing,” French said, before adding that because Americans have grown so cynical about political funding, the dangers of the bill are “not on people’s radars.”

Both French and Keating warned that under the plan, it would not be difficult to make the Federal Election Commission more partisan or ideological.

H.R. 1 passed the House earlier this month, but is not expected to make it through the Republican-controlled Senate.

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