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View Diary: The Regulators Push Back (56 comments)

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  •  Nothing corrupting (2+ / 0-)
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    Rogneid, MarketTrustee

    The problem isn't that Markos is corrupt. Of course, he's not. (Except in the sense that growing up and getting closer to real power is a little bit corrupting.)

    I just think the problem is that you don't want political parties to use the rules that govern Daily Kos as loopholes for evading all campaign finance reform laws.

    If Markos simply says, "Go to John Kerry's site and give him money," without providing a link, then I think that's a press kind of thing.

    If he provides a link to John Kerry's site or sells a banner ad containing a link to John Kerry's site, then I think that really is in a gray area.

    If the Republican Party stopped holding fundraisers and simply told all of its supporters, "We're a news blog, not a political organization. Click on the banner ad on top of this page to donate to the Republican Fundraising Corp.," would that mean it would no longer have to file any reports with the FEC?

    I understand that probably no it wouldn't meet that, but I just have a gut feeling that this is the sort of thing RNC lawyers would play a lot of games with.

    •  If I Tell Friends (0+ / 0-)

      If I tell a friend to donate to ActBlue, do I need to by a PAC to operate?

      "We need a war to show 'em that we can do it whenever we say we need a war." -- Fischerspooner

      by bink on Tue Mar 14, 2006 at 02:39:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The distinction (0+ / 0-)

        A) If you or a Daily Kos editorial tell people to donate to ActBlue, without giving a link, then it seems to me that you're acting as a clearly private individual. If the Republican Party simply tells people to donate to Republicans, that's not a campaign finance issue.

        B) Suppose you go around wearing a special Bink Suit that's equipped with a credit card swiper. You ask your friends to swipe their cards through the swiper and give to ActBlue that way. In that case, I think you would have to obey a bunch of campaign finance laws. Maybe you would be a PAC or something.

        C) What if instead your Bink Suit included a special Blackberry computer that gave your friends the ability to donate directly to ActBlue. In that case, I think you'd legally be more like someone carrying a credit card swiper than someone just telling people to donate to ActBlue.

        It seems to me that, in Case C, the law that would apply to you be really tricky. Maybe you would either have to be part of a PAC (or some other FEC-registered organization) or else the FEC would have to come up with complicated rules explaining why you wouldn't have to work through an FEC-registered organization.

    •  Contributions = Reports (2+ / 0-)
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      Molee, Rogneid

      Nothing about the Internet changes the fact that when you make a contribution, all the data around that contribution is collected and reported to the FEC.  

      So all the fuzzy issues about "what if a party did this?" really fall away, because the core doesn't change.   When money goes to a campaign, it gets reported.

      •  Do any other laws apply to the (0+ / 0-)

        fundraising organization?

        My vague understanding is that there various kinds of rules that don't have to do with reporting that apply to PACs and other FEC-registered organizations.

        Is contribution reporting and policing contribution limits the only thing a PAC or political party has to do, or are there other things it has to do?

        •  there's a lot more parties/PACs have to do. (0+ / 0-)

          Just focus on the bundling issue, and let the reform groups explain it.  Basically, the issue only reaches critical regulatory mass when the bundler touches the money herself and exercises "direction or control" over the choice of candidate to whom the contribution is made.  Otherwise, it's all on the actual donor, and not the conduit.  See also the WE LEAD advisory opinion.

          Suppose Markos posted an item saying "Please help John Kerry for President in EVERY WAY YOU CAN", but didn't mention money, and just linked to Kerry's homepage and not the contributions page.  Do you want a world in which they'd have to parse out whether he meant money or something else?

          •  Why this is a First Amendment issue (0+ / 0-)

            Suppose Markos posted an item saying "Please help John Kerry for President in EVERY WAY YOU CAN", but didn't mention money, and just linked to Kerry's homepage and not the contributions page.  Do you want a world in which they'd have to parse out whether he meant money or something else?

            I understand that a lot of people who claim to be objecting to campaign finance laws on First Amendment grounds are crooks, but I think an honest civil libertarian could be troubled by campaign finance laws for just this reason.

            On the one hand, a church is legally not supposed to be a PAC. It's really creepy if a church acts like a PAC. I might be sort of happy if one of Pat Robertson's churches got fined for acting like a wingnut PAC. But I'd be creeped out if a normal wingnut (or, worse, moderate or liberal) church got heavily fined for acting like a PAC.

            Along the same lines, I'd be really happy if the Republican Party got in huge trouble for evading campaign finance laws by pretending to be a giant Web news organization. But I'd be very unhappy if either Markos or the RedState folks (assuming that's actually an independent blog and not some weird front) got in trouble for simply using their little blogs to link to candidates' fundraising forms.

            Of course Markos ought to be permitted to link to a "donate to Kerry" (or, preferrably, Al Gore or Eric Shinseki) form, but I don't want the Green Party, the Communist Party, the Democratic Party, the Republican Party or the Libertarian Party to turn itself into a fake Daily Kos to escape whatever requirements normally apply to political parties.

            Anyhow, I'm going to stop replying in this thread because I've got to go do life stuff, and I think I'm starting to come off as being too stubborn, but, to sum up, I do think it would be important for Markos to have lawyers who can really look at this from the point of view of a RNC lawyer who will be looking for yummy loopholes.

            Somehow, people have to develop rules that let 12-year-olds in attics link to Pat Buchanan campaign contribution forms without getting fined by the FEC while prohibiting political parties and genuine PAC-type organizations from using the rules that apply to 12-year-olds in attics.

            And, of course, the overriding message is that we have to defeat the wingnuts in 2006 and 2008 because polar ice has stopped forming correctly. I'm not sure if anything else really matters very much, in comparison.

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