Robert Reich gets it wrong again, in Why Republicans Worry About Hurting Corporate Feelings. He takes Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to task for insisting, in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, that we should not force corporations to disclose to the public the campaign contributions they make to third party PACS like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS.
Reich commits a logical fallacy. It has already been established that corporations are people. It has also already been established that money equals speech. It would be a violation of free speech to tell someone they can’t spend their money to promote their cause. This leaves corporations, as people, free to spend corporate money on political campaigning. And just as we can’t punish individuals for practicing their free speech rights, so it is with corporations. And since requiring that corporations disclose their campaign contributions would open them to punishment, they must be free to keep their contributions anonymous.
Reich seems to allude to the notion that corporations are their shareholders, their executives and employees, and their customers, but even he admits that this is not true. Corporations are the pieces of paper which make up their incorporation. For this reason, Reich is wrong to insist that a corporation’s shareholders, and its customers, have a right to know what the corporation is doing with its money. And since revealing publicly their political contributions might open them up to shareholder resistance and consumer boycott, they must be allowed to keep their contributions anonymous.
McConnell’s speech will, in Reich’s words, give his Republican colleagues cover when the vote against a bill forcing full disclosure of corporate political expenses. Hopefully, the Congress will vote down the bill. Then we can all benefit from the campaign ads which the corporate money will fund and vote to preserve American freedom.