Lewis & Clark law school professor James Huffman certainly had a counter-intuitive take on campaign finance in The Wall Street Journal this morning.
Huffman, the unsuccessful Republican candidate in last year's U.S. Senate contest in Oregon, writes in an opinion piece that he once believed public disclosure of political contributions was a good thing. Now he doesn't.
Huffman writes that his losing campaign last November to Democratic incumbent Ron Wyden has now led him to believe public disclosure of campaign donations acts too often to protect incumbents' re-election. Huffman says that's because disclosure of donors creates an atmosphere in which incumbents can scan lists of political contributors and threaten retribution to people donating to their opponents. Without naming names, Huffman writes that he heard potential donors tell him "dozens of times" in his campaign that they couldn't risk angering an incumbent who was likely to get re-elected.
"Of course no incumbent will admit to issuing threats or seeking retribution, but the perception that both exist is widespread," Huffman writes. "And it would be naive to believe that the perceptions have no basis in reality."
Huffman's opinion piece in the Journal comes on the heels of this piece he wrote for The Oregonian over the weekend on the politicization of the judiciary.