The FEC and Blogs

by Henry Farrell on March 4, 2005

I was pretty sure that I was on the right side of the betting odds when I predicted a few days ago that the FEC was going to have to start thinking about how blogs fit into the current regulatory system, but I didn’t expect to be proved right this quickly. “Stephen Bainbridge”: has more.

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Simon World
03.04.05 at 5:36 am
Simon World
03.04.05 at 5:40 am
Simon World
03.04.05 at 5:44 am
Simon World
03.04.05 at 5:58 am
Simon World
03.04.05 at 6:01 am
Simon World
03.04.05 at 6:05 am
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03.04.05 at 7:20 am
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03.04.05 at 8:52 am
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John Smith 03.04.05 at 1:16 am

Both more and less here than meets the eye, I suspect.

For instance: the relevant decision of the DC District Judge was handed down in September: why is the FEC Commissioner railing about it now? Why did the Dem Commissioners not agree to appeal the judge’s decision as it relates to the internet?

But even if the judge’s ruling is allowed to stand, the law does not seem to justify the alarmist talk threatening the end of the blogosphere as we know it.


Brett Bellmore 03.04.05 at 2:33 am

John, you appear to think it’s no big deal, simply because they haven’t finished taking our 1st amendment rights away. We think it’s a great big deal that they ever were permitted to start taking them away.

Do you REALLY think this is going to end here? McCain and company certainly don’t mean it to.


DeadHorseBeater 03.04.05 at 8:02 am

I am one of those who have always thought this law unconstitutional, but I had idea idea its ramifications went so far.

What’s next? Charging Susan Sarandon and Arnold Schwarzenegger for the publicity-value of lending their good names to Democrats and Republicans?

Should we make sure that no-one donates too much time? I mean, if you make $10 an hour, you can donate 200 hours a year, but if you make $20, only 100?

Control-freak tyranny.


Sebastian Holsclaw 03.04.05 at 8:22 am

Should all of Michael Moore’s movies be regulated by the FEC as electioneering? I hate the man, but I don’t think we should do that. This just shows that McCain/Feingold was about censoring anti-incumbent viewpoints .


jet 03.04.05 at 1:30 pm

Is there some third party of autocrats forming? McCain and Feingold forging a third party of the idiots and malcontents? And to make it strong, they are stripping everyone else of their right to protest? And we saw how well McCain-Feingold worked in the last election. And then we see them pushing their stupid bill onto the internet. Who here actually believes they’ll stop where they are at?

You know, a candidate lending his name to his own campaign has got to be worth more than $2,000 in almost every case.

    Without deviation, without exception, without any ifs, buts, or whereases, freedom of speech means that you shall not do something to people either for the views they express, or the words they speak or write. (Link with more great quotes)

alkali 03.04.05 at 2:50 pm

Gosh, if Republican FEC Commissioner Brad Smith says that keeping giant corporations from buying our government also entails cracking down on bloggers, I guess we have no choice but to end all campaign finance regulation.

(Henry: Don’t believe the hype!)


jet 03.04.05 at 3:31 pm


How does cracking down on bloggers keep giant corporations from buying government? Or when I link to a candidates site, does that make me a “giant corporation buying government”? Or do I just get pissed on and have to give up my right to free speech because Haliburton is going to sway an election by also linking to a candidate’s site?

McCain-Feingold, true Fascism in America. I can’t wait for the FCC spyware, required for me to get an account with an ISP, that counts hits and reports traffic logs to the .gov so that my precious government isn’t “bought” by “giant corporations”. And I’m sure the .gov won’t ever abuse anything like that. Like they didn’t abuse the gun registration lists during the DC Sniper case.


Henry 03.04.05 at 4:58 pm

I should note for the record that I’m not getting into the normative question of whether regulation would be a good or bad thing (I’m not opposed in principle to all regulation of free speech, and until we see some specific proposals, I won’t be saying whether I’m for or against)

Instead, I’m wearing my political science hat here, and looking at a system of regulation which is clearly threatened by the Internet – if the FEC _doesn’t_ move to regulate some kinds of political activity on the Internet (including perhaps blogging), the current messy and unwieldy system will likely collapse over the medium term, as the Internet becomes an even more central medium of political communication. Therefore, I find it extremely unsurprising that some in the current system want to preserve it by extending it. I’m also prepared to make an educated guess that this speech is a pre-emptive move in that game – and is specifically intended to make it harder to extend the current system to the Internet by getting bloggers riled up (note that I


saurabh 03.04.05 at 5:11 pm

jet – as far as I can tell, the connection between blogging and the judicial decision is only being drawn by Smith, who is using it as an opportunity to smear campaign finance reform in general by drawing up scary phantoms. alkali’s point is, there’s no need to lump these things together; the link in john smith’s comment goes over this. There’s no call to think that the internet is going to be regulated on the basis of this decision.

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