Tom Barrett Campaigns with Anti-Speech Feingold

Tom Barrett Campaigns with Anti-Speech Feingold

Labor’s gubernatorial challenger to Scott Walker, Tom Barrett, has resorted to campaigning with notorious anti-speech Democrat Russ Feingold. It was former senator Feingold who, along with John McCain, criminalized speech for a class of Americans in their campaign finance witch hunt. 

Meeting with reporters in Milwaukee, Feingold said he believes the recall of Gov. Scott Walker is justified for several reasons.

He said he believes Walker launched a “surprise attack” on Wisconsin’s middle class, and that Walker has “a problem with the truth.”

Feingold defines “surprise attack” as “campaigning on the promise of reform and having the majority of Wisconsinites vote for it.” 

Why a labor candidate would campaign with a guy who legislated restrictions on labor’s speech is curious. 

Congress … has made political speech a felony for one class of speakers. Corporations and unions can face up to five years in prison for broadcasting candidate-related advocacy during federal elections.

The government defends this restriction by saying that corporations and unions are uniquely capable of amassing great wealth and must therefore be prevented from overwhelming the voices of others during an election. Relying on a 1990 Supreme Court decision (Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce), the government characterizes this threat as a “type of corruption” on the peculiar theory that such expenditures do not “reflect actual public support for the political ideas espoused by corporations.” Therefore, the government reasons, corporate expenditures “distort” the political process and must be banned.

In crafting McCain-Feingold, Congress acted without proof that such expenditures have any distorting effect on elections. And it responded to a nonproblem with a sledgehammer rather than a scalpel.

It will be interesting to see if this comes up as a topic of discussion this week as Barrett campaigns across the state.