The controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened elections to unlimited corporate and union money also upheld disclosure requirements.
In fact, the court strongly endorsed campaign-finance disclosure, saying "transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages."
Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate used similar reasoning in issuing a restraining order against a campaign committee called Restoring America that has reported spending more than $1 million in Kentucky's governor's race without disclosing the source of the money.
By hiding the contributors from the public, Wingate said, Restoring America is denying Kentuckians the "right to have a transparent campaign finance system."
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Restoring America, which has run ads attacking Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, has appealed Wingate's decision. The restraining order was sought by the Kentucky Democratic Party.
What's at stake is bigger than partisan politics or this election.
The flood of unlimited special interest money, unleashed by the high court's Citizens United decision, poses problems enough.
If the public is deprived of knowing who's putting up the money for the ads, phone calls and mailings, voters will have no way of evaluating the claims made about candidates and issues or the motives behind them. They will have no way of knowing to whom candidates may feel beholden and no one to hold accountable.
Without disclosure, there also is no way to enforce laws prohibiting coordination between candidates' campaigns and independent committees such as Restoring America.
The suppression of political speech is a serious step for any judge to take. But Restoring America, whoever it is, knew that Kentucky law requires it to disclose its contributors.
An advisory opinion in April by the Registry of Election Finance to the Republican Governors Association made that clear. Without the restraining order, the election would be over and the damage done to voters' rights before the complaint could be adjudicated.
Our democracy will be in peril if secret contributors are free to spend unlimited amounts of money to manipulate voters with claims and attacks for which they can never be taken to task.
As Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in another case last year, "Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed."