Thursday, March 03, 2005

Abolish the FEC: Get them before they get you

Declan McCullagh reports at C|Net,
[Federal Election Commissoner] Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over.

In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Just linking to a candidate's web site could be assessed as a campaign contribution, for which there is a $1000 individual limit. How much is your link worth? Nobody knows. Smith notes, "Senators McCain and Feingold have argued that we have to regulate the Internet, that we have to regulate e-mail. They sued us in court over this and they won." I suppose you could write your congresscritter, but they have a vested interest in the status quo. This reminded me of an article by Harry Browne on how the FEC exists primarily to enforce a two-party system. Oops, now I've contributed an unknown amount of money to Harry if he ever decides to run for President again.

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