Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Comments on the Proposed New Campaign Disclosure Regulations

Delaware has changed the law regarding campaign finance disclosure.  The Commissioner of Elections, Elaine Manlove, has been traveling the state today soliciting comments before finalizing those regulations.  My concerns focused on some new sign disclosure requirements.  As I read the law, Ms Manlove has some discretion on how this portion of the law is implemented.  See Title 15, Chapter 80, Section 8021 (c).  There were about a dozen people present at the Kent County hearing. Here is a transcript of my remarks.

My name is Jess McVay.  I was the Libertarian Party candidate for governor in the last election.  I would like to express some concerns about the new regulations in regards to the new requirements for signs. 
Before I begin to address what I consider to be some unreasonable specifics and dubious benefits of the proposed rules, I'd like to ask a few questions to clarify your intentions.  On the Commissioner of Elections website, in the Frequently Asked Questions section is the following entry:

"Do we have to put the words "Paid for by Committee or Person's name" on our campaign signs or radio ads?

The Delaware Attorney General has ruled that identifying the purchaser on campaign materials is no longer required as a result of court cases involving the right to "pure political speech".

Radio ads are governed by the Federal Communication Commission. For rules governing these ads you may contact the radio station where you want to purchase advertising."

So what has changed that you now mandate the disclosure when previously, you specifically stated that legal opinion had rendered that requirement void?

Another question:  You clearly intend signs to be included in these regulations, and not just billboards as you refer to a category between 8-1/2" x 11" and 24" x 36".  And yet you stipulate that the rules apply only to advertisements with a fair market value of $500 or more.  Am I missing something?  What kind of yard sign/roadside sign costs more than $500.  Are you demanding that we purchase in smaller quantities so as to keep the total under $500?  What exactly is your intention here?

What about signs from previous campaigns?  Must we now discard them as obsolete?  That seems an unreasonable burden to place on repeat candidates who wish to re use signs.  I include not just incumbents, but also persistent challengers in this category.  I own 400 6" x 18" Corplast signs that say on them.  Must I throw them away, or somehow add your new disclosure?

What about homemade signs?  It's a bit of an effort to cut out a template that says McVay for Governor, but it can be done in about an hour, and the short message allows for a large font and a legible sign, even if homemade.  Having to add "Paid for by Committee to Elect Jess McVay" renders the concept of a homemade sign a little more challenging if not totally out of the question.  That puts a burden on candidates of moderate means.  I believe that is an unreasonable burden.

And what of practicality?  An 18" x 24" sign that says McVay for Governor will be easily readable at a distance, say by a driver on the road.  The 12 point font disclosure will not be readable.  Why require it?  Make that a moving car, and we're lucky if the main message will get it's point across.  Furthermore, is the information useful.  Doe's anybody really care who erected or paid for the sign?  Candidate committee or PAC?  I would think the burden of showing a benefit for the new rules lies with you.  Please tell me who benefits?  It strikes me as one more hoop for a candidate to jump through to make the process more confusing so less people will participate.  For that reason, and the difficulty of producing the homemade signs, I'd say it disproportionately disadvantages candidates from smaller parties or challengers within the major parties.  That is anti democratic.  If you're not rich, or don't have rich donors, don't participate in the process.  That's not a good message.

The bottom line is, I don't see a need for this added disclosure.  On written materials or radio and TV ads, the burden is minimal, but still unnecessary.  But for signage, I fail to see any practical benefit at all, and the new rules will act to disenfranchise many would be candidates.

Thank you.

Jess McVay

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Is the Glass Half Full or Is It Half Empty

Half Full or Half Empty
I have an optimistic side and a pessimistic side. The optimistic side believes it's not too late to salvage this country from the train wreck we are headed for. The optimistic side is the one that compels me to stay politically active. The pessimistic side is pretty much aligned with the dire predictions in this article. The pessimistic side is pretty sure that it's too late for politics. We're way past salvaging anything of the old system. The people in charge who tell us it can be fixed, are either hopelessly naive, or are just trying to perpetuate a myth so they can continue looting what's left before the entire rotten carcass is picked clean.  To steal an analogy from something I read recently, It's as if our government and all the powerful movers and shakers in America were passengers on the deck of the Titanic.  They had a choice between 1.) steering the ship away from the iceberg or at least helping as many people as possible into the lifeboats after the collision or 2.) looting all the cash and jewels from the safe below decks and getting them into their own lifeboats before the ship goes down.  The pessimist in me thinks they've chosen door #2.

The truth is, I'm pretty sure the pessimistic side is right. I cling to the optimistic outlook as a hedge in case I'm wrong, but if I had to bet on the most likely outcome, I'd pick pessimism. And I say "if I had to bet" as if I haven't placed that bet yet when in fact I have. I am not just speculating about the worst, I'm preparing for the worst. I think everyone, no matter how optimistic they'd like to be, should be preparing for the bad outcome to the best of their own ability. Prepare for a world where the things you presently rely on government for are no longer provided. That may mean healthcare, your pension, effective policing or any kind of safety net whatsoever. Plan as if you were one of the families left devastated by Hurricane Sandy except the plan can't assume any help from the government. It might not be there. For some of us in this analogy, the government IS Hurricane Sandy.

The fundamental difference between me and those who think I'm wrong and maybe even clinically depressed and in need of medication is that we live in totally different paradigms as to what government is. You may think government is good. You may think that even though they get a lot of stuff wrong, they mean well, and it's just hard to get big things right in a complex world. In my paradigm, government is the huckster, the con man. We're the suckers. Think of it as a thought experiment. In your paradigm, it's not easy to explain the world. In my paradigm, the world makes perfect sense.

I'll let my optimistic side finish this little rant. I'm looking forward to the election results this evening. I know that whoever is president for the next four years, the results will be pretty much the same. I'm hopeful for several smaller victories in whatever venue they come from. Good numbers for Gary Johnson would be nice. Maybe "spoil" a state for one of the big boys. Who knows, maybe even turn the tide of the election. Nader did it in 2000. There are lots of local races here in Delaware where a good result is possible, even if it isn't a win. All it would take is one good outcome to make my night. Take the small victories where we can, and remain a happy warrior.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Realistic View of What Constitutes a Win for Liberty

Here's my wish list for the election results. A wish list tempered with realism.

Romney wins. I think the odds are against him, but he might pull it off.   Gary Johnson exceeds 5% of the popular vote, and thereby qualifies for Federal Matching Funds.  (I'll be voting for Gary.  You should too.  Especially if you're in a non-swing state like Delaware.)  Johnson returns in four years, stronger, better known, and better funded, and we do it all over again.  Johnson and/or Stein get enough votes to "spoil" a possible victory for Obama in at least one state, and Johnson and/or Stein get enough votes to "spoil" a possible victory for Romney in at least one state.  Both major parties need to be looking over their shoulders.  Alternative parties matter.  We want them to respect us.  We want them to fear us.

Libertarians spend the next four years comparing every big government, pro war policy that Romney enacts to those that Obama supported.   We spend the next four years demanding to know why Republicans aren't as critical of Romney for the same policies they crucified Obama for. 

Alex Pires and Andy Groff pull enough votes from Tom Carper that he loses to Kevin Wade.  It's not a perfect result, but I could live with it.  Scott Gesty and Bernie August pull enough votes from John Carney to at least make a race out of it and make John Carney sweat a little bit on election night.  A big enough vote total for Scott to shove up Ralph Begleiter's ass in two years when UDel's Center for Political Communication announces debate participant rules would be a joyous result in its own right.

In my own 16th State Senate District, I hope Mike Tedesco returns Colin Bonini back to the private sector after being on the state payroll for 18 years, the last several years of which he's pretty much been a ROADie (Retired On Active Duty.)  It's Mike the Independent against Colin the Republican.  There is no Democrat in the race.  Colin gets poor marks from all sides for lousy constituent service and just general laziness.  Tedesco's been campaigning hard with no money.  Lots of door to door and home made signs.  He's Delaware's Rocky to Colin's Apollo Creed.  With enough Democratic and Independent support, Mike could pull it off.

In my own 32nd Representative District, I honestly don't care.  Paleo-Conservative Ellis Parrott against Big Government/Big Union Liberal Andria Bennett.  I wish they could both lose.  I will write in Will McVay.  He's not registered as a write in candidate.  The vote won't get counted for him.  But it just seems like the right thing to do.

I'd love to see Cathy Samardza win the 15th State Senate District.  She's a smart and motivated lady.  She'd make a great legislator.  Thoughtful and willing to do the hard work.  I don't dislike the incumbent Dave Lawson.  He is sincere in his beliefs and engaged with the voters in a way that Bonini hasn't been for years.  But given a choice, I'd vote for Miss Cathy.

I don't know what his chances are, but if there is any justice in the world, Sam Chick would be the next State Representative from the 31st District.  And if not, keep an eye on him for the future.  Smart guy, great resume, devoted to liberty.  He's the most libertarian Republican I know.  He'll continue to have my support no matter what party he belongs to.

Elsewhere throughout the state, I want Libertarians to do well.  Decent numbers, especially for some of the folks I know the best.  Margie McKeown, Wendy  Jones,  Margaret Melson, and Ronnie Fitzgerald.  Wins for David Eisenhour and my wife Mary Pat McVay for Clerks of the Peace in Sussex and Kent Counties respectively would be welcome results and wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility.  And for the dozen or more Libertarians who I didn't mention by name, I wish you good luck and good results. Your efforts are appreciated, and you advance the cause of liberty just by being on the ballot and offering voters a better choice.  Thank you for stepping up.

As for Delaware governor, I guess it's fair to say I have a more personal interest.  My opponents Jack Markell, Jeff Craig, and Mark Perri are all good and honorable men.  At least two of us, and truth be told probably three of us, know we aren't going to be the next governor of the State of Delaware.  We three are carrying the banner for the causes that we believe in because someone should always do that.  I just hope I've been useful to my party, and have done my part to promote liberty in Delaware.  I still hope to win your vote, but I'll be satisfied if I get more votes than the Republican write in candidate, what's his name.  And one way or another, no matter what the outcome, the McVay family will be staying engaged in the years ahead.  We're not giving up on Liberty.  I hope you won't be either.