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Saturday, March 5, 2005
Blogs, The FEC and McCain-Feingold
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:38 am

Regular readers know of my general disposition towards McCain-Feingold and campaign finance rules in general (if not, click and scroll), so I am quite interested in the breweing brouhaha over the FEC and blogs that has been bouncing aroung the Blogosphere the last couple of days (it all started with this intereview on CNET).

First off, the suggestion that a link can be construed as a campaign contribution strikes me as patently absurd (of course, I think much of McCain-Feingold is patently absurd, so we call all take that for what it is worth). Still, how is a link any different than putting a campaign sign in your yard or a sticker on your car? Are we going to say that citizens promoting a candidate equates to an in-kind campaign contribution? I should think not.

Second, the only way, it seems to me, that McCain-Feingold could reasonably apply to blogs would be those that have direct connections to campaigns in a coordinated fashion-otherwise I can’t see, ultimately, blogs being treated any differently than a personally produced newsletter or pamphlet or general political speech. Indeed, there is no way to apply McCain-Feingold to opinion-based blogs who simply support a candidate. The only blogs I can think of that might be affected would be Daily Kos and Blogs for Bush and the like, because of direct linkages to campaigns.

Third, ALL of this (just the fact that we are having this discussion at all) demonstrates the insanity of laws like McCain-Feingold and underscores why there should be no restrictions whatsoever on political speech.

Michelle Malkin has a good round-up of links on this issue.

What Attitude Problem? rightly notes “Attention all bloggers! The sky is not falling! I repeat: The sky is not falling!” and also has a number of links.

He links (and quotes) The Campaign Legal Center: Setting the Record Straight: There is No FEC Threat to the Internet wherein we find:

Mr. Smith’s comments are obviously designed to instigate a furor in the blogosphere to pressure Congress to reverse the court decision requiring that paid political ads on the Internet should be treated like any other paid advertisements. Mr. Smith has a right to try to win converts to his anti-regulatory philosophy, but he has an obligation to present the issues fairly and forthrightly, and his comments to CNET fail both tests.

It is also noteworthy that Michelle notes three FEC members who have pubically disagreed with Smith.

So really, despite the fact that I will take any opportunity to diss BCRA (i.e., McC-F), there doesn’t seem to be anything to get crazy about here vis-a-vis blogs.

Look: it seems clear that the FEC is trying to deal with the role of campaign money and advertisement via the Internet. That does not mean that the the FEC is going to start regulating blogs.

Filed under: US Politics, Blogging, Campaign Finance Reform | |Send TrackBack

1 Comment »

  1. You make a good point about bumper stickers. Here is what I would do if I were you: Print out each of your blog posts on glossy paper with water-resistant ink. Glue each on to sheet magnet (available at most craft stores). Stick them on your car. There, you be safe from government persecution.

    If you drive a Geo Metro, this will also force you to be pithy in your blogging.

    In lieu of that, I think we should tax the pis out of the blogosphere.

    Comment by John Lemon — Saturday, March 5, 2005 @ 3:06 pm

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