Page images




[ocr errors]

may use to purchase advertising space in the Detroit Free Press which Ire publishes, and the contribution of equal space used by him for editorial comment for a like purpose ?

Under the present law, it is permissible for Mr. Knight to make a $1,000 contribution, or, for that matter, give me up to $5,000; and, if I desire, I can use all of it to buy space in his paper. But the corporation, which publishes the paper, cannot give me a nickel.

What I am suggesting is that, if we are to limit the amount which may be contributed to or expended by a candidate, or a political committee, both use their funds to exercise their right of free speech, a free press—if a corporation is to be barred from making any contribution whatever as it now is, and if an individual is to be limited to a $5,000 contribution as the law now provides, why should it be permissible for an editor or a publisher to evade the purpose of the law by contributing editorials or political propaganda, unlimited either as to cost or value, under the label "Editorial comment” or in the exercise of the right of free speech or a free press?

Most people who have had political experience know that an editorial is far more valuable from a practical standpoint than an equal amount of purchased space for a political ad. Is it logical to say that a corporation cannot contribute a dollar to a candidate or a political committee while permitting a corporation which publishes à paper to use any amount of space it desires in editorial comment in support of a candidate or a political committee?

Is it logical to limit the contribution of an individual to $5,000 but, if he be a multimillionaire, permit him to purchase a newspaper or a perodical, then, operating it an an individual, use any amount of valuable space for editorial comment as to the desirability of the election or the defeat of a candidate?

My right as an individual to free speech and a free press should be just as great as the like right of an editor or publisher. But, under the law as it stands today, I repeat, I cannot contribute more than $5,000 to express my views through purchased newspaper space. However, if I individually own a publication, my pocketbook, my inclination, and the sky are the limit as to my contribution.

Free speech—a free press-has had no more persistent and vocal advocate in this Congress since I came here than your humble servant. However, if we are to have a limitation upon political activities in the Federal field, neither editors nor publishers should ask-certainly they should not receive—just because they are publishers or editorsany special consideration as to the amount of their contributions to candidates or political committees. Their right to free speech-a free press—is no more sacred, should be neither greater nor less, than that of other individuals. Yet, my suggestion that equality be the rule will be met with a storm of protest—the unsound assertion that I am seeking to suppress a free press.

Mr. KEATING. I am impressed, as the chairman apparently is, by the fact that this idea about registration may be a very constructive one. We ought to canvass very thoroughly that question. Do I understand that it would be your idea to require any group of citizens who formed a committee, or any other organization, and who issued literature which was designed to influence an election, or who engaged in any campaign activities, to be required to file a registration statement ? Mr. HOFFMAN. In Michigan a political committee or an individual who publishes a political advertisement must sign it-report it. If that organization or individual was intending to spend over a specified amount, the law would be violated. I would be very, very careful about interfering with the right of each individual to express his views. I do not believe the courts would uphold restrictive legislation limiting an expression of opinion unless the cost thereof exceeded the amount named in the law and unless that amount was reasonable.

Mr. KEATING. But if they intended to spend beyond a certain amount for the candidacy of anyone, or any political party, then you would require their registration?

Mr. HOFFMAN. Yes; the same as lobbyists.
Mr. KEATING. As we do with lobbyists?

Mr. HOFFMAN. As we do with lobbyists, for in one sense they are lobbying. What is the amount that an individual or a corporation can contribute now?

Mr. KEATING. A corporation cannot contribute.
Mr. HOFFMAN. Unless it is an educational institution.
Mr. KEATING. An individual can go to $5,000.

Mr. HOFFMAN. If any organization or individual intended to spend over $5,000 in political activities—if that was the sum fixed—I would have them register, because unless they are registered and unless there is a central clearing agency there is no use writing a law carrying a limitation.

Now, in our State all political advertisements must be signed. The law requires it. All do not do it.

The CHAIRMAN. The Federal law requires that also, but it is more honored in its disregard than in its obeyance.

Mr. McCULLOCH. Do you not think, if you would fix a limitation which would not require registration, that it would be self-nullifying? For instance, there are some 3,700 counties in the United States. If you wrote a law saying that all expenditures in excess of $5,000 must be registered, you could spend $18,000,000 without having any effect from your suggestion. In other words, you may nullify these election laws, or these corrupt practices, as they are sometimes called, by fixing limitations and then permitting innumerable committees to continue the activity.

Mr. HOFFMAN. Friends of Candidate John Doe.

Mr. McCULLOCH. Again, if we seek to say “Above a certain amount there shall be registration, and by inference we do not require registration below that, you will have nullified that kind of law; is that not so ?

Mr. HOFFMAN. I think so. I think it is futile to attempt to place any limitation upon campaign contributions unless you have an overall checking organization of some kind.

Mr. McCULLOCH. For instance, in our lobbying laws there is no limitation-is there!—if money is expended in influencing legislation. The lobbyist must register whether he spends $1 or $100,000.

Mr. HOFFMAN. That is the way I understand it. Permit me to again thank you.

The CHAIRMAN. Our next witness is Dr. Harold F. Gosnell. I wonder if you would give your name and occupation, Doctor.




Dr. GOSNELL. My name is Harold F. Gosnell. I am a professor at American University.

The CHAIRMAN. Go right ahead, Doctor.

Dr. GOSNELL. I have studied election laws for about 30 years in this country and in other countries.

The CHAIRMAN. We are glad to have you with us. We are sure you can give the committee some very valuable information. Do you care to make a statement ?

Dr. GOSNELL. On the basis of information on election laws in this country, the national and State laws, and the laws of certain foreign countries, and also on the basis of observation of how some of these election laws operate, I have come to certain conclusions regarding the Federal laws on campaign expenditures.

My first conclusion is that these laws should apply to primary as well as general elections, and should apply to all party committees, and to all nonpartisan organizations urging election or defeat of a candidate or a party.

A second provision that would be very desirable would be the fixing of responsibility for campaign expenditures. Each candidate should have an agent or someone who is responsible for the collection and the expenditure of funds. Individuals should be permitted to make contributions or to render personal services, but should not hire others and should not solicit funds.

The item of concentration of responsibility for campaign expenditures is well carried out in Great Britain, where each candidate for the House of Commons appoints an agent during the election period, and no expenditures are allowed on behalf of that candidate except through this agent. If this agent spends more than the amount permitted under the law, then his candidate is disqualified for the election and cannot hold the seat and may be disqualified also for running in that constituency for a certain number of years.

A third recommendation concerns publicity. Publicity probably is one of the best methods for controlling campaign expenditures. The present Federal laws regarding publicity are not very effective, since there is no supervision of reports; there is insufficient penalty for failure to file reports; there is no requirement as to forms, audits, calling of witnesses, and reporting of violations; and no requirement for the analysis of these reports. The congressional committees, like this

. one, have been the source of real reports on campaign expenditures, and not the provisions of the law.

A bank might be designated for party funds and a post-election report which would show the name and address of each contributor, the signed expenditure vouchers, loans, and outstanding obligations. In some campaigns the important thing is the debts incurred by the party committees and those to whom these debts were incurred.

Publicity should be given before the election as well as after the election, so that within 2 weeks or so the voters could have a pretty clear picture as to who was contributing to what committee and what candi. date, and how that money was being spent.

The fourth recommendation concerns the contributors. Here a few regulations are needed. Prohibitions in the existing law are probably


adequate here for the protection of stockholders of corporations and the protection of trade unionists who have views perhaps different from their leaders, and the protection of office holders.

A fifth recommendation would concern expenditures and the kind of expenditures to be made. Some of the State laws are much more adequate in this than the Federal laws, prohibiting the payment of watchers, and prohibiting transportation to the polls.

A sixth suggestion concerns the general subject of State aid, and in this field I would like to call attention to a recent experience of the Japanese with certain laws which were devised under the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers.

The Japanese wanted to adopt a democratic system which would work as successfuly as possible, and so they raised the question as to how a poor man, particularly under some of the conditions in the postwar period, could afford to run for public office, and they asked for some assistance in devising methods for State aid. So the Japanese election laws provide for various types of aid to candidates. These include a certain amount of time on the state-owned radio. This time is equally or fairly allotted. It also includes the payment of three advertisements in the newspaper, which the candidate selects. It includes some space in a pamphlet, a kind of publicity pamphlet similar to a pamphlet that has been used in some of the American States, where he can present his qualifications and some of the issues which he is standing for. It also includes a certain amount of paper, since paper was in short supply in Japan, for the printing of pamphlets and other literature to be distributed. It includes participation in meetings, debates between the candidates, which are held in halls that are paid for by the Government.

Mr. KEATING. And it limits the number of speeches which a candidate can make, does it not?

Dr. GOSNELL. Well, there are 30 meetings, yes. There is some limit also on the total expenditure.

Another provision in this Japanese law regulating the state aid is for travel. In Japan gasoline is rationed, and the candidate had to have sufficient gasoline coupons in order to cover his district. That also included fares on some of the transportation facilities in the particular district. If he lived in a city, he would be given a pass on the street railway system. And finally, it included enough postcards, with what would amount to a franking privilege, in order to send a mailing to each one of the voters in his particular district.

These laws, in the various elections in which they have been used, have provided an opportunity for many people without funds of their own to run for elective office, and the result is that the Japanese Diet has a much more varied type of representatives than you found before the

money was much more influential in the choice of representatives.

The laws have not been perfect, and there has been some feeling that the wealthy still, by spending huge sums of money for certain purposes, have an advantage, and it has been very difficult to enforce the limitations on the total amount of money that could be spent.

Some of the provisions of the Japanese election laws do have certain parallels in American State laws. Some States have had State-owned radio stations, which have been available to candidates.


war, when



A safeguard, if any such provision is used, against too many candidates coming up, would be to provide that these facilities would be available only to candidates of parties that polled, let's say, 2 percent at the preceding election; and since in American history it has been very rare that a third party has polled as much as 2 percent, this would effectively limit candidates who were not really serious candidates.

Mr. MCCULLOCH. Inasmuch as you have indicated that legislation should extend to and be effective in primaries, how would you limit the number of people who could participate in a primary?

Dr. GOSNELL. Something might be done along the line of the British provision. They require a deposit by each candidate, and if the candidate does not receive a certain percentage of the total vote, then he would forfeit that deposit. Some such provision would prevent candidates from running who really are not serious candidates and who do not have sufficient backing to make some kind of showing. That is, if a candidate was merely out to gain a little publicity for himself and did not have any kind of backing, he would forfeit this deposit.

Mr. KEATING. Some of our State laws provide that now, I think.

The CHAIRMAN. I think Texas requires a deposit of $1,000. Most States have some requirement. It is $250 in my State.

Mr. KEATING. Do you think the Federal Government should legislate in this field rather than leave it to the individual States as is now the case?

Dr. GOSNELL. The Federal Government could legislate in this field as far as primaries are concerned for the nominations of Congressmen and Senators.

Mr. KEATING. It could. So far it has chosen to leave that to the individual States.

Dr. GOSNELL. You have your legislation applying to the election of Congressmen and Senators.


Dr. GOSNELL. I think that legislation could be extended to the primary elections.

The CHAIRMAN. I think the provision in the Taft-Hartley Act concerning corporations and labor unions making campaign contributions applies to all elections, primary and other elections.

Mr. KEATING. Yes; I realize that can be done. I am just wondering whether the Federal Government should step in and supersede the individual States. If Texas has a requirement of a $1,000 deposit now, and Congress decided $200 would be the proper amount Nation-wide, should we step in and supersede the individual States in that regard I would be rather hesitant, myself.

Dr. GOSNELL. That would be the same problem you have now with Federal legislation as far as elections are concerned. You have a limit on total expenditures imposed by the Federal Government, and a limit imposed by the States.

Mr. KEATING. That is true, and sometimes they are not in conformity.

Dr. GOSNELL. That is true, and the candidate would have to observe the limit which was the highest-or the lowest, rather.

Mr. KEATING. It would be the highest if it applied to a deposit.

Dr. GOSNELL. Yes, but in the limit on expenditures, he would have to observe the lowest.

« PreviousContinue »