Forget Congress: Reforming Campaign Finance Through Mutually Assured Destruction

Abstract

Congress will not enact meaningful campaign finance reform. Under the nation’s current legislative, regulatory, and judicial regimes, remedies to the problem of money in politics appear unattainable. This Comment provides an entirely novel approach toward reducing the corrosive influence of outside money on the U.S political system. Aided by the power of the profit motive, this Comment proposes the creation of Super PAC Insurance, a nonpartisan private entity with one central goal: deterring outside Super PACs and 501(c)(4) organizations from spending money in elections. The Comment details the mechanics of Super PAC Insurance, addresses its legality, and proposes several variations on its basic model.

Super PAC Insurance disincentivizes outside spending by applying the principle of “mutually assured destruction.” As demonstrated in the 2012 U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts—when then Professor Elizabeth Warren and Senator Scott Brown took The People’s Pledge—adding costs can effectively deter Super PACs from spending in elections. Once Super PACs know their spending will trigger a barrage of opposition spending by Super PAC Insurance, they should be less likely to spend against an insured candidate. Thus, Super PAC Insurance will reduce the influence of money in politics writ large.

In the wake of Citizens United and its progeny, American political spending has skyrocketed out of control. Rather than produce despondency among reformers, this new reality must catalyze innovation. This Comment’s private ordering solution moves beyond government paralysis and offers a workable path forward toward reducing the influence of outside money in politics.

Listen to an interview with the author on Dialectic.

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By uclalaw