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Quotations from Co-Chairman Keith

Keith Ellison represents Minnesota’s Fifth District in Congress. He proudly identifies himself first and foremost as the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. With a little help from Karen Hunter (as he notes in the Acknowledgements), he has now written the memoir cum manifesto My Country, ‘Tis of Thee: My Faith, My Family, Our Future. The book gives us Ellison’s deep thoughts on a variety of political subjects. Here is Ellison’s short course on campaign finance reform, stopping short of the obligatory denunciation of Citizens United. Ellison writes, so to speak, in chapter 14 (“What’s the Matter With Congress?”):

We need genuine campaign finance reform. I support putting an upper limit on the amount of donations any member can raise from an individual. This approach could level the playing field between the richest person and someone with an average income. If the candidate agreed to certain spending limits, his or her campaign could be eligible for a government subsidy. I would like to see a specific time limit on campaigning. No campaign ads or postings before the time allotted [sic]. There should be publicly supported access to media for all viable candidates for federal office. We, as Americans, own the airwaves. Media companies could donate time during election season to make sure that the voting public can learn about the issues and the candidates.

Like letters marked “Dictated but not read” in days of yore, this passage should be marked “Dictated but not thought.” Among other things, I’m sure Ellison knows that current law imposes strict limits on individual campaign contributions to federal candidates. They are posted here by the FEC. I’m sure Ellison means something by his support for “putting an upper limit on the amount of donations any member can raise from an individual,” but I have no idea what it is. I also love Ellison’s use of the verb “donate” in this paragraph. By Ellison’s lights, the federal tax code must constitute an intricate system of donations. I gave at the office!

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