Will Leininger’s legacy be real campaign finance reform?

There was one more interesting quote from that Express News story I excerpted in the previous post, which I’m putting here because it didn’t fit that one:

Leininger may not go away, but [Rep. Joe] Straus said maybe such huge contributions should. Leininger spent about $2.5 million attempting to defeat five Republicans who voted against school vouchers last year.

Straus last year received backing from Leininger, but he said this year’s record spending, though perfectly legal, helped drive unseemly campaigns. He called Leininger “this year’s poster child for grotesque funding of politics.”

“Ronald Reagan would be spinning in his grave,” Straus said. “It was a divisive and bitter negative campaign season where Republicans were piling on each other with campaigns of distortion and offensive attacks. It seems the more negative, the nastier, the less credible the attack, the better it worked.”

You can’t do much about the tone of a campaign, but you can do something about how much any single entity can spend on one. Straus was one of many coauthors of campaign finance reform bill HB1348 last year, which got killed on the floor when sponsor Craig Eiland tried an end run to get it out of committee, where Mary Denny was steadfastly blocking its path. I don’t recall if HB1348 had a donation cap provision (the text is a little too dense for memory-jogging purposes), but that’s certainly an agenda item among the reformers, so who knows? Now that some Republican incumbents have gotten a taste of what this is like, they may decide it’s in their best interests to push for limits on how much a single entity can give to a campaign. If so, the irony would be delicious.

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