Reform Reform

Don’t miss Ryan Sager’s damaging attack on the Campaign Finance Reform movement in the New York Post today.

Sager has unearthed a video of one “reformer” bragging about how, to put it generously, his movement uses the tools of its enemies: massive spending campaigns, “astroturf” popular movements, and general deception.

Here’s Sager’s description of a speech by a former Pew Charitable Trusts staffer, Sean Treglia:

“Charged with promoting campaign-finance reform when he joined Pew in the mid-1990s, Treglia came up with a three-pronged strategy: 1) pursue an expansive agenda through incremental reforms, 2) pay for a handful of ‘experts’ all over the country with foundation money and 3) create fake business, minority and religious groups to pound the table for reform.

“‘The target audience for all this activity was 535 people in Washington,’ Treglia says — 100 in the Senate, 435 in the House. ‘The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot — that everywhere they looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform.'”

Now we’re not entirely on board with Sager’s thesis. When you spend a lot of time watching how money sloshes around City and State politics, it’s hard to view it as “speech,” or to share Sager’s libertarian hostility to the notion of regulating it.

But hypocrisy is always damning, and the slimy tactics of holier-than-thou reformers are fair game.