John Laird Voters wonder Who are those masked megadonors

first_imgWhether you’re conservative, liberal or independent, you should be glad to know the following: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has donated $1 million to support the charter schools initiative that is expected to qualify for the Nov. 6 ballot. To that same cause, almost a half-million dollars was donated by the parents of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings chipped in $100,000.You should be equally glad to also learn this: In opposition to the charter schools initiative, the Washington Education Association is donating staff time.The point of this column is not to support or oppose charter schools, or draw conclusions about those who donate to either side. What really matters is that we know what appears in those first two paragraphs, and this helps form our opinions about how to vote. So forget for a moment the trendy “TMI” retort because, when it comes to voting, there’s no such thing as too much disclosure.This belief ought to be universal in a free society with a popularly elected government. Sadly, though, some members of Congress don’t agree and have gone all TMI on us when it comes to disclosing campaign finance information. On Monday, the Senate is expected to take up the DISCLOSE Act of 2012, which would require unions, corporations, Super PACs and other groups to identify those who make political contributions of $10,000 or more.Years ago, members of both parties supported such efforts to inform the electorate. But not in today’s Congress. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., insisted in an op-ed for USA Today that the DISCLOSE Act is “an attempt to identify and punish political enemies, or at the very least, intimidate others from participating in the process — an effort that’s already underway.”last_img read more