Should Campaign Donors Be Disclosed?

Republican primary supporters outlined against an American flag.

Republican primary supporters outlined against an American flag. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

October 19, 2012
This story is part of a joint investigation into new campaign finance regulations by Marketplace and FRONTLINE. On Oct. 30, watch Big Sky, Big Money, the story of how the Citizens United ruling is changing political campaigns.

This year’s new campaign finance rules have allowed an unprecedented amount of anonymous money to flow into the political arena.

A new story from Marketplace asks whether full disclosure matters when it comes to campaign cash.

It depends, the report says, on whether people consider the information private — or secret.

Here’s the difference, according to University of Notre Dame psychology professor Anita Kelly, who specializes in information people keep from each other: “Secret information is information that we hide from another person or a group of people and we know that they expect access to that information,” Kelly tells Marketplace‘s Mark Garrison. “Private information is hidden information that we keep, and we understand other people don’t expect to know that information.”

The distinction depends, then, on the expectations of the people from whom the information is hidden.

But since, in the case of campaign contributions, “the people” make up about 300 million Americans, not everyone comes down on the same side.

Listen to the full story here:

Sarah Childress

Sarah Childress, Former Series Senior Editor, FRONTLINE

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