Forget Congress: Reforming Campaign Finance Through Mutually Assured Destruction

Source: Nicholas Warshaw, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – School of Law, Law-Econ Research Paper No. 15-09, June 22, 2015

From the 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 and viable approach towards reducing the corrosive influence of outside money on the nation’s governance. Aided by the power of the profit motive, this Comment proposes the creation of a new non-partisan private entity, Super PAC Insurance, to help solve this vexing problem. Such a company will have one central goal: deterring third-party outside Super PACs and 501(c)(4) organizations from spending money. The Comment details the mechanics of Super PAC Insurance, addresses its legality, and proposes several variations on the basic model.

Super PAC Insurance, creates a disincentive to outside political spending by applying the principle of “Mutually Assured Destruction.” As was demonstrated in the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race, when Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Scott Brown took The People’s Pledge, adding costs to Super PACs’ spending decisions effectively deters outside spending. Similarly, if a Super PAC knows its spending will trigger a barrage of spending against their preferred candidate from an insurance entity, they should be less likely to spend against an insured candidate; which in turn should 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 though amongst reformers, this reality must catalyze innovation. The enclosed Comment offers a workable path forward beyond government paralysis; a non-state based solution to reducing the influence of outside money in politics.