FECless Bloggers?


Strange bedfellows Kos of Daily Kos and erstwhile FEC commissioner Brad Smith at RedState both note that the Online Freedom of Speech Act (H.R. 1606) has stalled until after recess. An alternative bill first proposed by the Center for Democracy and Technology, H.R. 4900, appears on a quick skim to provide a narrower exemption from campaign finance regs for "small speakers" online, but also exempts those "small speakers" from various disclosure requirements.

Yesterday's New York Times editorial on the "Internet campaign loophole," incidentally, reminds me to a depressing extent of a parody I wrote a couple years back on the "First Amendment loophole." The editors describe 1606 as a bill that "pretends to be trying to protect the free speech rights of bloggers on the Internet"—and it must be an efective pretense for the Odd Couple of RedState and Kos to both see it that way—which is conceded to be a "legitimate concern," but as we've come to expect from supporters of campaign finance regulation, that legitmate concern is abruptly dismissed with a bit of handwaving. Because, you see, "speech" doesn't really count if someone has to pay for it. Unless, that is, it's paid for by the corporation that owns an old-media newspaper, in which case exemptions are necessary to preserve the sacred liberties of people with official press passes.