EDITORIAL: Democrats exhibit selective outrage when it comes to money in politics

For Democrats and their many stenographers in the mainstream media, money is the scourge of politics. Right up until it isn’t.

Earlier this month, the Democratic Party had a banner day in Virginia, retaining control of the governor’s mansion among a slew of other victories. And a lot of money was spent on those victories. Yet there was nary a peep about cash corrupting campaigns.

As reported by A. Barton Hinkle of the Richmond Times- Dispatch, in the closing weeks of the campaign, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam enjoyed a 2-to-1 advantage in financing over Republican Ed Gillespie. Mr. Northam went into October with $5.7 million in his pocket, compared with Mr. Gillespie’s $2.5 million. By the time the polls closed, Mr. Northam had spent $32 million to Mr. Gillespie’s $23 million.

Mr. Hinkle noted that Gov.-elect Northam was aided by many left-leaning outposts, drawing $3 million from Planned Parenthood and $2 million from liberal billionaire megadonor Tom Steyer, among other big-dollar contributors. So as Mr. Hinkle asked: “Why hasn’t this ‘outside money’ been cited as a factor in the race — or as proof that ‘money buys elections’ ”?

One reason, Mr. Hinkle noted, was that Mr. Gillespie drew plenty of cash, too, and that both sides were well-financed in the lieutenant governor and attorney general races, as well. So money wasn’t necessarily the overriding factor. But for a slew of down-ticket races, particular in Virginia’s House of Delegates, where Democrats scored an avalanche of wins, money pouring in for the Democrats surely helped.

Yet there’s been no hand-wringing over this by campaign finance zealots.

Contrast that with what happens when conservative or libertarian donors fall heavily for GOP candidates. Mr. Hinkle specifically points to overheated Democratic rhetoric on the Koch brothers and the National Rifle Association. He was particularly off-put by Washington Post reporting that included this query: Have your representatives in Congress received donations from the NRA?

Mr. Hinkle writes: “The Washington Post asks — and answers the question with a handy infographic showing you just how much every representative has taken from the gun-rights group. No such district-by-district scrutiny applies to, say, Planned Parenthood — which, although it does not outspend the NRA,” is still among the nation’s top political contributors.

In fact, money is no guarantee of success in politics. But it’s still an important factor in helping campaigns get out their messages and mobilize voters. That’s why the U.S. Supreme Court has correctly recognized that many restrictions on political spending violate the First Amendment.

Better that Americans are free to financially support the candidates of their choice than unaccountable federal bureaucrats be empowered to regulate campaign speech. It’s all protected by the Bill of Rights. And not just when your favored candidate wins.

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