Exerpt from Mark Schmitt's informative and thought provoking piece in the TPM Cafe "The Return of Doolittle and DeLay":
Back in the late-1990s, and for some time after, as the McCain-Feingold bill limiting soft monfey contributions gathered momentum, an alternative emerged that would have eliminated all restrictions on campaign contributions, and in return all contributions would be reported immediately on the Internet. Accompanied by the ritual quotation from Justice Brandeis that "sunlight is the best disinfectant," the proposal to replace regulation with disclosure was first introduced by Congressman Doolittle, with DeLay as his lead cosponsor of "Doolittle/DeLay." Ney did not cosponsor, but probably just because he ran the committee that the bill was referred to, where he supported it. Burns took the same position in the Senate, complete with the same quote from everyone's favorite Massachusetts liberal.Be sure to read Schmitt's entire piece.
The fact that the principal advocates for the disclosure-only approach are now revealed to be (alleged) crooks does not in itself invalidate the idea or cancel out its merits as policy. But the specific case, even if none of the named legislators is provably guilty of a felony, shows starkly the limits of such an approach.
First, note that it has taken the FBI several years now to even begin to piece together the relationships between campaign contributions and official actions in this case, with indications that the investigation might take several more years. And that's with all of Abramoff's boastful e-mails as a roadmap. How would an ordinary citizen be expected to understand whether a campaign contribution from, say, the Tigua tribe, should be a matter of concern?