David McNew/Getty Images

Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

The resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich over a personal $1,000 donation he made in 2008 in support of California’s Proposition 8 shows the dark side of campaign disclosure laws and how liberals are using them to intimidate, harass, and bully anyone who disagrees with them on social and cultural issues.  The Mozilla staffers and others targeting the company are engaging in the type of intolerance and coercive behavior that they are always accusing others of exhibiting.

Before Eich resigned, he pointed out that he had kept his personal beliefs out of Mozilla and that they were not relevant to his job as CEO.  He was exactly right, although that did not prevent him from resigning.  In a startling display of irony that was obviously lost on her, Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, who approved of Eich’s resignation, said it was necessary because “preserving Mozilla’s integrity was paramount.” She seems not to recognize that forcing a founder of the company to resign because of his personal beliefs that have nothing to do with his qualifications as a corporate officer is the exact opposite of “integrity.”

Eich is certainly not alone in his predicament. As the Heritage Foundation previously pointed out, other supporters of Proposition 8 in California have been subjected to harassment, intimidation, vandalism, racial scapegoating, blacklisting, loss of employment, economic hardships, angry protests, violence, death threats, and anti-religious bigotry. All committed by individuals claiming they are simply trying to gain “acceptance” and who complain about the supposed intolerance of society over their lifestyle.

What has been happening in recent years is no different then what racist government officials in Alabama were trying to do in the late 1950s when they subpoenaed the NAACP’s membership lists. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the state in NAACP v. Alabama (1958), holding that the state’s actions violated the Fourteenth Amendment and interfered with the free associational rights of the NAACP’s members.

While campaign finance reformers are constantly touting the benefits of the disclosure of political contributions as a means of preventing corruption, they fail to explain how that objective is served by requiring disclosure of donations in referendum campaigns.  There is some logic in disclosure of contributions to candidates who then have the ability to initiate, support, or pass legislation that may benefit contributors if they are elected. But no such logic attaches to donations against or in support of ballot propositions that are approved by all of the registered voters of a state. There is no candidate or potential legislator who can somehow be “corruptly” influenced through contributions.

Moreover, the ability and right to engage in anonymous political speech and activity – and making contributions is a form of political speech – used to be considered common sense.  The Federalist Papers were published under pseudonyms and one of the most famous and stirring pieces of writing in American history – Thomas Paine’s Common Sense – was first published anonymously because of the danger to its author for publishing such revolutionary ideas. The same threats those authors and others throughout our history have faced for expressing ideas not in conformity with the ruling passions of the day are today being faced by Americans like Brendan Eich.

The required disclosure of contributors like Brendan Eich to referenda is now being used to harass and intimidate them for their political opinions. Those who bullied Eich into resigning, particularly the employees of Mozilla, should be ashamed of themselves for their behavior.  They apparently believe that anyone who disagrees with them on controversial legal and social issues should be driven from the workplace, no matter the economic and personal consequence to that individual and his family.

What’s next? Special reeducation camps for anyone who disagrees with them?