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View Diary: HR 1606 pulled until next week (56 comments)

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  •  Again, it's a question of complexity, efficacy (1+ / 0-)
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    And the timetable of an impending set of regulations that will now be promulgated. I think that Bob Bauer had a good critique of the proposal. Not all that I agree with, but his points can't really be ignored.

    CDT accommodates the objections of the reform community in still another ways.  It does not wish to upset this community:  it fears a confrontation, over the terms of Internet regulation, with Senators McCain, Feingold and the other usual suspects.  Having expressed anxiety over the effect of Internet deregulation on the campaign finance laws, CDT wishes to avoid any affront to reform opponents of a policy of deregulation.

        This is a large concession:  it speaks to the priorities of CDT, which cannot be said to include a willingness to stand its ground and defend the larger question at issue here:  for purposes of Government regulation of politics, is the Internet a special case, or it is not?  CDT replies, as would the reform community, that it is and isnâ€TMt, and that at most, it merits some carefully designed and controlled maneuvering room, just as additional space has been provided under the law for certain volunteer activity or for types of political party activity.

    •  But 1606 does nothing that Bob Bauer that ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... says he supports - except for trying to tear down the campaign finance laws.  Let me be clear:

      1. CDT does not care if we upset the campaign finance reform community.  We take no position in Bob's fight with that community.  But we realize (as Bob ignores) that his fight with that community will bog down and delay any meaningful protection for bloggers.  Bob is holding you and the entire blogging community hostage to further his anti-campaign finance goals.
      1. Bob speaks of "defending a larger question" and creating "additional space" for things like "volunteer activities."  But 1606 does not offer broad protection for the Internet and create additional space -- instead, it leaves many, many regulations applying to the speech of many, many bloggers.  I would take Bob's views more seriously if he was backing a bill that offered a broad and comprehensive vision of how the Internet should be free from campaign finance regulation.  But he isn't, and 1606 leaves bloggers subject to numerous burdensome campaign finance regulations.  If you read my original posting, I detail the ways that 1606 provides far less protection from bloggers than does HR 4900.  The whole theory behind HR 4900 is to take bloggers out of the rules entirely -- and do so quickly -- and leave the broader debate to rage between Bob and the reform community.  (And at the end of the day, CDT will likely support at least some of Bob's arguments in the broader debate -- but our goal here is to protect bloggers now.)
      1.  Finally, if Bob is accusing CDT of talking to all stakeholders in an effort to craft protection for bloggers than has a chance of passing both houses of Congress, then we are guilty as charged.  Some organizations never deviate from an absolutist position on issues (and those organizations play a critical part in the political process), but CDT as an organization looks to try to solve actual problems, and to do so sooner rather than later.  There is no doubt in my mind that if the blogging commmunity continues to follow Bob's efforts to tear down all campaign finance laws, then Congress will enact no protection for bloggers prior to the 2006 election.  Every week that you waste trying to get 1606 rammed through the House on suspension or a closed rule is a week longer that bloggers are not protected from the campaign finance laws.  HR 4900 would fly through Congress if this community could bring itself to change course and support it.  And then bloggers would have real, meaningful protection.


      •  Now? (0+ / 0-)

        Well, had 1606 passed the House today (which clearly it would have) the FEC would not have released regs next week.

        Besides - even with 4900 - sites like this are not protected -as the cosponsor admitted in the Hill today.

        •  I thought that the goal was to protect .... (0+ / 0-)

          ... the broad group of bloggers, not primarily DailyKos.  But in any event, DailyKos would be protected under the media exemption (which 4900 contains and 1606 does not).

          •  Then your sponsor needs some more education (0+ / 0-)

            But again - 1606 = a rulemaking stopped in its tracks. CDT remains a good, yet complicated solution that reaches much farther than 1606.

            And despite the fact that 1606 doesn't go as far as CDT - what it does do is simply restore the 2004 situation - one with which we're familiar. Add to that the FiredUp! advisory opinion - and we're well on our way to a comprehensive solution.

          •  Except . . . (0+ / 0-)

            . . . the media exception at least exists now in advisory opinion form, which isn't ideal, but at least it's a start.  

            And as we both know, it's still a contested question as to whether DailyKos would be protected under the exception -- the outside groups backing the CDT proposal certainly think it shouldn't, nor does Rep. Allen who's sponsoring it.  Which is why we've pressed for some kind of commitment from those groups on that issue, but as today's quote from Rep. Allen indicates, I don't think there's any progress.

            Finally, as you know, my goal is to protect my clients, which includes this site.

            •  What irony.... (0+ / 0-)

              Adam and Mike, I do hope you see the irony in your two posts above -- what you are telling me is that you do not need 4900 because the FEC will protect you.  I thought that the whole point was that you do not trust the FEC.

              FWIW, if the FEC ever issues its rules, I expect that it will in fact provide much more protection for bloggers than is provided by 1606 -- at least in part because CDT's filing last summer specifically raised issues beyond the narrow BCRA question.  The problem with protection from the FEC is that (a) it is more subject to change than a law, and (b) it will be much harder to wade through the statute, regs, and advisory opinions to figure out whether you are covered or not.  

              HR 4900 asks a simple question:  do you spend more than $5000 for express advocacy or not.  For 99% of bloggers, the answer to that question is easy - "no way".  For DailyKos, it is a little harder, because I assume that your annual expenses are more than $5,000.  But I would be surprised if the owners and employees (if any) of DailyKos in fact spend more than $5,000 per year on express advocacy.  Talking about the election or the issues of the day is not - without more - express advocacy, and thus would not be covered by the laws.


              •  John, we're saying nothing of the sort (0+ / 0-)

      'll not find us saying that 4900 is a bad bill. Tactically, however - there is no doubt that introducing it now - and inviting folks not known to be pro-freedom in this area to be the sponsors - AND making it a substitute for 1606 (never did get that one, I admit) forced the FEC's hand.

        •  Explain: how does 1606 stop regs? (0+ / 0-)

          1606 exempts the internet from the definition of "public communication."  That's all.  There are lots of other activities that are regulated under that Act besides "public communication".

          AdamB has told us repeatedly that the FEC is under "court order" to issue regs on the internet.  Is it true that this order is specifically limited to "public communication" activities?  If so, then MAYBE 1606 overrides the court order (but maybe not).  

          Generally, if a court orders something, the order must be followed - unless Congress passes an Act specifically overruling the order.  For instance, if Congress passed an Act saying "The FEC shall not regulate the internet under any campaign finance law," that would specifically overrule the order.  But that's not what they did.  1606 will only overrule that order if it is a narrow order applying only to "public communications."  Maybe AdamB can post the order or a link to it, or answer this question.

          •  Go ahead. (0+ / 0-)

            Here's the district court's opinion.  The order was limited to the "public communications" part, but the drafted proposed regulations went far beyond that.  Which is why part of our formal comments to the FEC said:

            As we understood Judge Kollar-Kotellyâ€TMs opinion in Shays v. FEC, the concern was that the absence of regulations concerning coordinated expenditures on the Internet created a potential for â€oegross abuse”, thus undermining Congressional intent in passing the BCRA. However, it appears to us that the FEC has taken that narrow concern and exploded it into a mandate to regulate all aspects of political activity on the Internet. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking now makes possible everything from making group weblogs into regulated â€oepolitical committees”, to potentially imposing a â€oeblogger code of ethics” with disclosure and disclaimer requirements enforceable by law requirements otherwise unheard of for any other independent actor who deals with political campaigns), to intruding into the workplace to tell readers how much time they can spend participating in online political discussion groups.

            We believe that Judge Kollar-Kotellyâ€TMs order only requires the FEC to engage in rulemaking to prevent candidates and parties from improperly coordinating with outside groups regarding Internet communications, just as is the case in other media. The FEC should go no further. Until true harms are demonstrated, the FEC should allow the unique free market of ideas that is the Internet to regulate itself.

            •  So 1606 may not stop regulation? (0+ / 0-)

              Sounds like 1606 addresses the order if interpreted the way you argue it should be interpreted.

              But the FEC could still regulate the internet everywhere other than in the "public communications" sphere, even if 1606 passed?

              •  well . . . (0+ / 0-)

                . . . there would be no active regulatory process now, because the premise for this one would be gone.  

                The FEC delayed its vote from today until next week precisely for this reason; had the House passed 1606 today, there would be no need (and the Chairman has no desire) for the FEC to act.

                •  well, well . . . (1+ / 0-)
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                  Adam, two reactions:

                  1.  If HR 1606 had passed the House, I would be willing to bet that McCain or Feingold would have put a hold on it and it would never move in the Senate.  So at some point the FEC will need to issues rules or risk getting hauled by into court by the reformers.
                  1.  And if Chairman Toner stops the entire rulemaking and HR 4900 is tanked, then DailyKos and many other bloggers will certainly be obligated under the law that predates BCRA to file reports with the FEC, publish their street addresses when they advocate for a candidate, etc. etc.  HR 1606 does nothing to change the rules that existed before BCRA (and that apply to bloggers today).  Only HR 4900 exempts the vast majority (if not all) bloggers from those rules.  I still simply do not understand why the leaders of the Online Coalition prefer to enact 1606 and continue to be subject to a range of FEC regulations.  No one has denied the fact that HR 4900 provides much more protection than 1606, and no one has explained why bloggers are fighting so hard to achieve less protection.


      •  And further (0+ / 0-)

        Do we really contemplate that 4900 could get through both houses AND the necessary rulemaking at the FEC in time for the fall election?

      •  As with Mike . . . (0+ / 0-)

        . . . the problem is the "now" part.   There no way for CDT's proposal to get through the House without going through committee first, was there?

        I don't want anyone to get the impression that we don't trust you or CDT.  I just think that there are some aspects of the proposal that we do need to think about, and I think we're correct to be cautious of anything that Democracy21 and the Campaign Legal Center embraces, given their history.

        •  HR 4900 could have been on the President's desk.. (0+ / 0-)

          .. this month if you guys had gotten behind it.  

          There is no requirement that 4900 go to committee.  Indeed, this Congress is quite expert at bypassing committee.  The Rules Committee could have let 4900 go to the floor, 1606 go to the floor, or both go to the floor.  Because it did not think that it could ram through 1606 alone, it punted this to another day.  And protection for bloggers was delayed again.

          •  Well, except (2+ / 0-)
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            Adam B, Alice Marshall

            That 1606 already had a majority support in the house. Not to mention - if the calls for 1606 to go through committee were legitimate, just because this congress is good at bypassing the process - that doesn't necessarily mean its the appropriate path. Are you really advocating a floor vote on a complex bill that not only re-establishes a regulation but fundamentally changes BCRA and FECA with no time for Members to weigh in on it?

            In any case - the shame is that in the fight for the perfect - the good became the casualty. Even if you don't think 1606 could have made it through the Senate (debatable, of course - with both Leaders on the bill) - just passing the House would have stopped the rulemaking and given us plenty of time to work together to pass the CDT proposal.

            •  Well . . . (0+ / 0-)

              Congressmen Bass and Allen sought to have HR 4900 considered in committee at the same time that HR 1606 was considered.  But the backers of 1606 seem to want to avoid broad protection for bloggers at all costs, so the House Administration Committee declined to permit 4900 to be considered.  So although I agree with you that full consideration of bills is desirable, the 1606 backers prevented such consideration.

              •  Now this just isn't far, John (0+ / 0-)

                1606 = majority vote in the House in December. Both Senate leaders on as co-sponsors (which, of course, happened after we first spoke about its chances in the Senate). Introduced a year ago. A conservative Republican in the House, a liberal Dem in the Senate. A unanimous vote in committee. Passing the House means a stop to the rulemaking while the Senate considers.

                None of these are BAD things.

                4900 = no committee votes. no floor votes. no mark up. no Senate version. Introduced a couple weeks ago. By two supporters of increased campaign regulations.

                So forgive us for not taking the opportunity to shut up - instead choosing to be a little more cautious around folks (not CDT) that haven't proven terribly trustworthy on freedom issues.

                Here's the question I have: do you, or did you believe that passage of 1606 would, in fact, jeopardize your comprehensive solution? Because the only reason I can even contemplate that scenario is if folks only promised to support it if 1606 were kiled.

                •  A belated reply ... (0+ / 0-)

                  ... as I am on the road and have been largely off the net since Friday...

                  Here's the question I have: do you, or did you believe that passage of 1606 would, in fact, jeopardize your comprehensive solution? Because the only reason I can even contemplate that scenario is if folks only promised to support it if 1606 were kiled.

                  Yes, I do.  The blogosphere seems to only want 1606, and I think there is little to no chance that 4900 would get any momentum behind it if 1606 passes.  In this Congress, little passes without very strong momentum.  And further, if 1606 passes, there is not a bat's chance in hell that 4900 would pass in time to protect bloggers for the 2006 election.  [And to be clear, I believe that the reform community is committed to the protections for individuals in 4900 no matter what -- as far as I can tell, absolutely no one ever wanted individuals to be burdened by the rules, and I think we are all struggling to find the best way to protect them.]

                  I do agree that in retrospect it would have been far better to get 4900 teed up in Congress months ago.... we delayed for a particular reason that ultimately did not pan out....

                  And I certainly was not meaning to suggest that you shut up.  You are a very thoughtful voice in this conversation.


                  •  sorry, the 'shut up' line (0+ / 0-)

                    Was simply an attempt at a smile referencing good President Chirac.

                    So here's a proposal - wide out in the open: if we get 1606 through - I'll be just as loud and involved in the process to get 4900 through the traps as I have been up to now.

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