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Should Political Candidates Accept Foreign Dirt?

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During an interview, President Trump said that if he were offered damaging information on his political rivals from a foreign government he might accept it and not inform the FBI. Since Trump is Trump, he also asserted that he thought that in such a case a person should maybe accept the information and contact the FBI. Laying aside the problem of trying to determine Trump’s definitive position on this matter, there is the general question of whether political candidates in the United States should accept damaging information provided by foreign governments or foreigners. Image Credit From a legal standpoint, there is some debate about whether accepting such information would run afoul of election law. Foreign nationals are forbidden from providing contributions, donations, other expenditures or exchanging any “thing of value.” The problem arises because “thing of value” is vague. On the one hand, damaging information could obviously be politically valuable to a campaign and would thus seem to fall under the law. On the other hand, one could argue that while such information would be useful, it is not a thing of value in the same sense as money or providing advertisements for a candidate. I think that such information should be considered a thing of value; this is because the law is aimed at preventing foreign interference in our elections and providing such information would be providing something potentially valuable (opposition research is expensive) that is aimed at interfering with an election. One could also make the sophist argument that since political spending has been ruled to be speech, then it would follow that political speech is also money—so providing political information would be the same as providing political money. This argument is, of course, easily countered by distinguishing between the “is” of predication and the “is” of identity. I am certainly willing to listen to someone arguing against me and contending that if China’s. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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