This is hard for me to comprehend.
[Ed Wulfe, the Houston developer who heads Citizens for Public Transportation, the pro-rail political action committee] said Texans for True Mobility’s refusal to reveal its backers demonstrated the organization’s “contempt for voters.” Wulfe further said the organization is running ads based on the “misleading information conjured up by Mr. Culberson” and should pull them off the air.
[Chris Begala, spokesman for Texans for True Mobility] said the campaign had no plans to do so and called Wulfe’s demands “absolutely ludicrous.”
The backers of Texans for True Mobility did not wish to reveal themselves to the public, Begala said, because “they are scared of (retaliation from) very powerful entities affecting their ability to live and work in this community.”
There’s a lot of anonymous bloggers out there, and I respect their reasons for doing so. Hell, there are times when I wish I’d chosen to use a nom de blog. I started writing this post as a snarky attack on the TTM supporters who refuse to make themselves known, but I can’t quite do it without attacking the principle of anonymity in political discourse, and that’s not a step I’m prepared to take.
That said, I have a hard time taking the TTM members’ stated reason for wanting anonymity seriously. We’re not talking about lowly proles who are worried about being fired or evicted for being troublemakers. We’re talking about people who have the wherewithal to make contributions, very likely large contributions, to a political action committee. People like this have money, power, and connections. They are, in short, very powerful entities themselves, and they would very much be not without recourse if there were retaliation against them for their contributions. What are they really afraid of? If it’s the idea of being associated with this anti-transit group, then maybe they should think about why it engenders such shame in them.
There’s another point to consider here, which is that we just have Chris Begala’s word for it that it really is individuals who are balking at having their names released and not corporations. I’ll say it again: the notion that there’s a First Amendment right for corporations to make anonymous campaign contributions is ludicrous on its face.
Finally, as Rick Casey notes, the pro-rail side has no such compunctions about being publicly known, and as I noted before, the fact that TTM is exploiting a legal loophole to be anonymous seriously undercuts any moral force they may have to their choice. If these guys want to be players, they ought to have the guts to appear in the scorecard.