Looking for some help today. I'm writing an editorial for tomorrow about S.C. campaign finance rules. Among the loopholes that would be great to close is the one that allows somebody to get around the $1,000 individual contribution limit by setting up multiple LLCs and funneling money through them instead. It's the tactic NY millionaire and school choice proponent Howard Rich used, for instance, to dump more than $150,000 into SC candidates' pockets in the waning days of last year's campaign. One candidate alone got $25,000.
But I'm not sure what the best way to close that loophole would be. Ban corporate contributions altogether? That's the method Pitchfork Ben Tillman adopted in the first federal campaign finance reform in 1907. The Citizens United ruling made that a bit more complicated. And besides, I'm not so sure I really care if a corporation wants to donate to a candidate. I can accept situations where a company might be interested in supporting somebody. But I can't accept the jump from there to allowing contributions from dozens of related shell companies solely to avoid campaign contribution limits. Limits are a good thing and should be protected. But how?
Is it possible to write a law that allows contributions from corporations but avoids this bald-faced workaround? Perhaps you somehow check who the principals of the LLC are? But then you quickly end up with a clunky, complicated law that 1)few people will really understand and 2)the ethics commission simply doesn't have the manpower to enforce. Anybody have other ideas?