Conservative local political blogger Sharon Boyd (www.dallasarena.com) sometimes reminds Buzz of the Terminator. No matter how hard you knock her down, up, up she comes again, ready for another pointless sequel. Sometimes we wonder why she bothers, particularly now. Boyd recently filed a lawsuit against DISD trustee Jose Joe May, alleging he violated election finance laws by spending more than the lawful contribution limit of $1,000 when he sent out a mailer supporting city Councilman Steve Salazar in Salazar's District 6 race against Boyd in May 2003.
You say you don't remember that race? Of course not. Only a fraction of registered voters cast ballots in city elections, and Boyd was trounced. It's a safe bet that few besides the two of them recall the race. So why, we asked her, would she file a suit now, especially since the most she could recover in damages is attorneys fees and twice whatever May spent on the mailing, which Boyd's Web site claims must have been at least $1,500 for printing and postage?
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Because rules are rules, she says.
"If we have rules, we should follow them," Boyd says. "Somebody's got to say enough, or otherwise let's call off all elections in this town."
Yes, but some rules are bad. Working for a newspaper, Buzz knows as well as anyone that supposedly free speech costs a lot of dough to publish or put on the air, so why should May or anyone else be told how much of their own cash they can spend to disseminate words in support of a political candidate? (First Amendment anyone? Anyone?) Allowing elected pols to ration political speech via contribution caps isn't just a matter of the fox guarding the henhouse. It's like giving the fox the only lock and key to the coop.
Oddly enough, Boyd agrees. "Some of the people who donated to my campaign would have donated more, but I couldn't let them," says Boyd, who doesn't believe that Salazar himself had anything to do with May's flier. A thousand dollars doesn't go far in today's campaigns, and she'd be happy to see the finance rules changed or eliminated. But that's an argument for another day. The rules are what they are, so "either do away with them or make people follow them...especially an elected official," Boyd says--particularly an official like May, who's an experienced political consultant, or as Boyd describes him, "the king of the vote harvesters." (May could not be reached for comment.)