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I just wanted to take a minute to respond to some of the lingering questions following yesterday's story, and hopefully clear up some misconceptions.

1.  Won't H.R. 1606 open up a massive loophole to soft money?  

No.  For starters, consider this: it already was open for the 2003-04 cycle, and awful things did not happen.  H.R. 1606 merely repeats the same language which governed political activity on the Internet in 2003-04, only previously, it was done by FEC rulemaking and not by an Act of Congress.  As I explained a long time ago, a court in D.C. ruled last fall that in face of Congressional silence regarding the Internet, it made more sense to force the FEC to pass rules governing the Internet, within the McCain-Feingold context, than leaving to leave it alone.

But for 2003-04, this blanket exemption governed, and the question is, why didn't soft money flow freely through a "loophole" that the reform lobby believed is so wide open, given all that was at stake in the 2004 elections?  (If people are interested in exploring this further, I've got my hypotheses, and we can discuss below.)

Moreover, claims by those in the reform lobby (and their allies on the Hill) that H.R. 1606 would have allowed corporate money to flow to campaigns are fearmongering, not fact.  Rep. Meehan -- whom I generally like -- is simply wrong when he claims that "Corporations and billionaires will be enabled to pay for Internet-related expenses of requesting candidates or requesting parties, and the public will not have a clue where this money comes from because virtually all they will see is the Internet advertising designed and created by candidates."

H.R. 1606 would have no effect on the general ban on corporate expenditures on federal elections -- 2 USC 441b takes effect upon the moment of the expenditure "in connection with any election", and it matters not where such money goes.  Nor would H.R. 1606 have any effect on the general contribution and fundraising limits in place.  None.

More, after the break.

2.  So, do we oppose closing the loophole?

No.  Unlike some of the other supporters of H.R. 1606, we like most campaign finance regulation, and believe that there are sound ways to prevent accumulations of wealth from corrupting our politics.  If a bill is presented which extends the soft money rules to the Internet, but also allows for robust protection of citizen activity on the Internet, we will support it.

H.R. 4914, the last-second Shays-Meehan alternative, is defiantly not such a bill.  Three quick reasons:

  • It does not protect online group activity from regulation.  Basically, any group site that has > $1000 in server and other costs/expenditures over the course of the year, and which uses its site to occasionally discuss federal candidates, would have be classified as a political committee with formal filing and disclosure requirements.
  • Its protection to corporations "whose principal purpose is operating a web log" is silent as to other already-existing and yet-to-exist forms of online activity.  What about podcasters?  Wikis?  P2P networks?
  • Most importantly, this "principal purpose" test would not protect incorporated entities like DailyKos.com, as the reformers see it.  As they have explained in formal comments to the FEC and elsewhere, the same groups which drafted HR 4194 have argued that a site like this one or FiredUp has a principal purpose of "electing Democrats," not blogging, and therefore should not be protected from byzantine FEC regulations.

3.  So, what do we want?  

Here's the thing: after much delay, the FEC rulemaking will finish by the end of February.  If Congress does not act, their rules will govern for 2006 (barring litigation from an interested party).  And while I was very optimistic after our June hearings and the subsequent media statements by FEC commissioners, one of those Commissioners (Brad Smith) has since stepped down and three others will likely be replaced soon by McCain allies.  It is in the face of that uncertainty and the time pressure that we support H.R. 1606 as the best option available -- politics is, after all, the art of the possible.

I have long believed that the best answer, instead of H.R. 1606, would be to expand the "media exemption" to cover the Internet as well.  It is under consideration by the FEC, but Congress could do it as well.

Basically, the media exemption is the statutory protection which allows corporations like The New York Times Co. or Fox to operate media outlets without having everything they say which aids a candidate to be considered an illegal in-kind contribution to that campaign.   It currently protects any "news story, commentary, or editorial by any broadcasting station (including a cable television operator, programmer or producer), newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication . . . unless the facility is owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate," and expanding that list to "the Internet" would accomplish three goals:

  • it would provide clear, unmistakeable protection
  • it would cover individual, group and incorporated activity online
  • it would cover all the forms of Internet political activity, and not require new regulations as each new format becomes popular.
What we want, really, has not changed since our original comments filed before the FEC, which you ought to read if you find this stuff important:
Unlike every other medium which the FEC regulates, there is no mechanism by which entities can use wealth or organizational strength to crowd out or silence other speakers, thus negating a fundamental premise of many of the regulations proposed here. Democracy is being fulfilled here, and this experiment should not be disrupted without due cause.

We believe that two principles should guide the Commission: equality and clarity. By equality, we mean that individuals, PACs and candidates operating on the Internet should be treated no more harshly than they would be in any other medium. Indeed, the nature of the technology (low cost of entry, no scarcity of space due to unlimited bandwidth) is such that less regulation than other media will often be justified, but certainly never more.

By clarity, we insist that because of the low cost of entry and the ability of unsophisticated parties to easily enter the political sphere through the Internet, any regulations should make unmistakable any obligations or restrictions on ordinary citizen use of the media. These regulations should be invisible to the overwhelming number of amateur Internet bloggers and diarists, with impact only on those parties engaged in the kind of financial transactions such that they can reasonably be expected to be knowledgeable of the law. Even for those parties, these rules should be made clear in advance, so that there is no omnipresent worry about a citizen complaint being filed by partisans of the opposite side for acts not covered in these regulations.


We want to keep the focus of campagign finance laws on the sophisticated candidates, parties, PACs and other entities already cognizant of their legal obligations, and have the rest of us left alone.  Anyone who can make that happen is my friend.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 07:51 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Phew. (4.00)
    I'm sure that'll answer every question everyone ever had, and now I can turn to other matters. :)
  •  Note to democrats (none)
    Money is not everything on the net.  One can spend gazillion bucks on web project and people will still come to that little amateur site build by highschooler in PJ's. Bling-bling is not everything on the net. It's information quality.

    Consider this: If money is all it takes, look how GOP tries to spend money and build that fake/astroturf sites last election and failed miserably.

    And yes DLC democrats, that means you are on your way out pretty fast if you are not connecting with people in real way. All those corporate money won't help you one bit except giving it to big newspaper/radio/TV who will stomp on you on their regular news anyway.

    So either you join us on the grassroot level, or you keep doing that ever more expnsive media hackery.

    Your pick. Regardless we will win.

    And don't let us build virtual network that can't be controled by any entity on the planet. You'll be sorry if somebody actually built it.

  •  Let Me Ask People This (none)
    Why is it that you and Markos are correct on this one, and the Republicans and the Blue Dog Democrats are correct on this one, but almost every liberal Democrat is wrong?  Isn't it possible that you guys are missing something, or is it just that this is the exception, the case where the people that vote against us in almost every single instance, are on our side?

    The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

    by Dana Houle on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 08:14:52 AM PST

    •  Conyers is on our side... (none)
      ...because he knows what blogging is about.

      The people who fear blogs are those who still think that bloggers=right-wingers, even though the left-wing part of the blogosphere is about three times the size of the right-wing part and still growing, even as the readership of the right-wing blogs drops precipitously.

    •  Huh? (none)
      Conyers? Barbara Lee? Maxine Waters? Sherrod Brown? Harry Reid?

      We're not missing anything. The Republicans have different motivations -- an ideological opposition to all regulation. We're not making that argument.

      Fact is, the out-of-touch reform groups see corporation boogeymen under every bed, and can't fathom a medium that can't be dominated by them.

      They claim that bloggers are blurring the line between partisanship and media, completely blind to trends in the corporate media the past decade -- where partisanship and media have already been thoroughly mixed, shaken, and served.

      The difference is that bloggers don't have a sophisticated lobbying operation on the HIll like the "reform" groups. They set up a war room in Meehan's office, spread misinformation about what 1606 would do, and twisted some arms.

      We got beat not on the merits, but because we're not playing the lobbyist game yet.

      •  It Was a Throw Away Vote (none)
        It was on the suspension calendar (which requires 2/3 vote for passage), where bills that go if they are either
        A. Going to sail through with no controversy; or
        B. If people want to cast a cheap vote, say "I was with you" and show that a majority supported it, but kill the bill.

        It's like voting on constitutional amendments; if it ain't gonna' get 2/3 vote, there's no cost.  Then they can say they dealt with the issue, and it goes away.  

        It would hope it's occured to you guys that some of those people voting yes were voting yes essentially so they could say they were supportive, dispense with the bill without worrying that it would pass, and then get it out of the way.  

        The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

        by Dana Houle on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 08:40:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  others have raised that concern (none)
          It's a cynical take, but I'm not willing to accept it yet.  I really believe Hensarling thought he could get this through.

          If it really was a throwaway vote, why wouldn't more liberal Democrats have thrown a vote our way?  Why would only mostly Republicans have done so?

          •  I'm Not Saying It Was... (none)
            ...a throw-away vote for the Repubs and Blue Dogs, I'm suggesting it was a throw-away vote for some of the liberals.  

            If you've ever worked in a legislative setting, you know it happens all the time.  Some members will look at the board, and figure if they can waste a vote on something to avoid a hassle, get a brownie point with some constituency, help out another member on an issue they don't care about but that's important to the other member, screw with the other side by making the vote closer and forcing members of the other party to cast votes they don't want to have to cast, etc.

            Happens every day of every legislative session.  And if my theory is correct, some of those people casting votes that you liked were waiting until most other members had voted before casting their vote.  That way they would know it wouldn't do any harm.

            The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

            by Dana Houle on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 08:55:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  They don't seem to believe it (none)
        I think in the end somebody has to prove and build a system that can't be touched by law at all. (pure distribution, over wireless, cheap, and egalitarian) Something that when regulated will utterly decimate corporate communication system first before it actually affecting the netroot. things that intl, motorola, Verizon, SBC have to defend.

        Probably something like blogs running on top of wireless bit torrent.

        Imagine everybody has a WiFi cellphone and Wimax costing less than $500 to set up. End of story for any corporate media.

    •  I think two things are going on (none)
      The first is the procedural concerns expressed by Rep. Barney Frank regarding how the bill was brought up.  I think he was sincere, and for those representativess for whom that was the basis of opposition, but who otherwise might be supportive of the bill, I have no hard feelings.

      But secondly, I just think it's a mindset thing -- the "reform lobby" groups like Democracy21, the Campaign Legal Center and Common Cause have just pounded into their heads that Regulation Is Always The Answer, but I think that those things which make the Internet different just lend this medium to a different approach.

      Not everyone who is on our side on this one is on our side for the same reason, to be sure.  But I'd much rather start from under-regulating and then add restrictions as problems do arise, rather than overregulate now and force Congress or the FEC to peel things back.

    •  Fear (none)
      They fear that given unlimited spending, corporate interests could overwhelm the Internet with advertising.  Corporate interests generally align Republican.  Therefore their fear.  

      The problem is that they don't understand how the Internet works.  Dumping piles of cash to create a bunch of astroturfing blogs doesn't work.  They can't extend any control over the audience and they have no way to generate the credibility necessary to make this money have influence.  

      The thing is with radio and television, they are finite, regulated, and controllable.  Furthermore, they are one-way.  The Internet levels the playing field.  Throwing more money at a problem gets you a slicker website and a bigger server farm, but it doesn't get you credibility, and it definitely doesn't give you control.  

      --- If trickle down economics worked, Marie Antoinette wouldn't have lost her head

      by sterno on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 08:34:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  exactly (none)
        You just have expensive crap nobody wants to visit.

        (ie. average big bloggers are already bigger than medium size national newspaper)

        Once somebody figure out how to do automatic podcast editing. The blog landscape will once again changed forever.

        •  What do you mean? (none)
          What do you mean by "automatic podcast editing"?

          --- If trickle down economics worked, Marie Antoinette wouldn't have lost her head

          by sterno on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 12:43:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  auto aggregator. (none)
            A standardized system where a machine can mash/recombined pieces of audio once released.

            so, a person can drop 2 minutes newsreading on 'washington politics' then another guy do 3 minutes of 'washington gossip from the street' they both dump it on the net.

            then an automatic aggregator/editor will just mix them up to listener specification.

            Right now, it's either you download the entire podcast somebody make or you don't download. It's the whole show or nothing.  And there aren't that many people can fill 30 min-45 min of talking. (who wants to waste that much time anyway?)

  •  Atrios addressed this, too (none)
    Why should blogs be treated any differently from Sean Hannity?  He's free to do what he wants.

    Also, the fears of a Halliburton blog are silly, because it wouldn't be a real blog, just another slick vanity website.  True blogs are communitarian, and while the anti-Daschle blogs fooled some folks, they're not likely to fool people this go-round.

    •  Oh, and another thing.... (none)
      ...the anti-Daschle blogs were used against Dsachle in the same way that Drudge was used by the "legitimate" media against Clinton:  As a way to put smears into media play.

      Anything can be used to smear anyone else.  But blogs are the only medium where poor folks actually have an advantage over rich ones.

      •  and, ssh! (none)
        The Thune blogger payments were disclosed as part of the Thune campaign's June 2004 FEC filing, a 3500+ page PDF document that was completely un-searchable.  One thing we've suggested -- though I think the Senate itself would have to do this -- is to require Senate candidates to file electronically, so that their disbursements could be more easily analyzed.
  •  I have a question for the reformers (none)
    Have any of you ever kept books for a local candidate or county committee? Do you understand how burdensome our present laws are for grassroot political groups? That in the process or regulating the big guys you are making it impossible for anybody but the big guys to comply with existing law?

    And now every blogger who links to a political candidate is supposed to file forms? Do you have any idea what you are proposing??????????

  •  Why worry about blogs? (none)
    Crony capitalists have already insinuated their creatures into every news organization.
  •  Fundamental misunderstanding about the Internet (none)
    I think what this boils down to is that people see what corporate control of broadcast media has done, and thus they are deeply afraid that this kind of control, extended to the Internet, could kill Democracy.  

    The flaw in this logic comes down to a simple issue of how broadcast media works and how the Internet works.  Broadcast media is a one-way transmission using a relatively limited amount of bandwidth.  You've got a fixed number of channels and it costs a great deal of money to operate one of those channels.  Therefore it is a natural turn of events that those channels should end up being owned by companies with sufficient scale to cover those infratstructure costs.

    For a pittance, one can put up a website.  The tools and talent to put together a website that looks good, and works good is very common.  Hell, with the various free blogging sites, one can do this without spending a dime if you've got the knowledge.  Furthermore, the interaction on-line, for the most part is two-way.  People say what they think and there's an interaction where people can criticize or commend their statements.

    The large piles of money a corporation can bring to bear here don't actually make a difference.  They can buy more servers, and maybe hire some really talented artists, but in the end, the content is what it critical, and frankly, they have no monopoly on this.  

    Furthermore, unlike the broadcast media, reputations are still being built here.  The credibility of a source is much more deeply considered when something is read on the Internet.   If I see a story saying Terry Schiavo doesn't want to pay her taxes, I can google and find out that it came from Drudge and was an unsourced quote.  

    Here on the Internet, I have the control, not the media.  I can go through a site, pick and choose what I want to read, and ignore the rest.  If I'm so inclined, I can block the ads, though in the grand scheme I probably don't pay much attention to them anyhow.  There's no advantage that big corporate money brings to the table when any shmoe can post a web page.  

    --- If trickle down economics worked, Marie Antoinette wouldn't have lost her head

    by sterno on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 08:29:12 AM PST

    •  I think you are wrong (none)
      1. a large number of blogs are one way - with no comments.
      2. Paid workers can be far more talented and prolific than a citizen blogger
      3. Corporations have far more tools at their disposal than citizen bloggers, especially ties to MSM to push their content
      4. Corporations are inherently gifted at propaganda since a large chunk of their business is advertising
      5. Information doesnt have to be untrue for it to be damaging. Not everything is black and white.
      6. Information doesnt have to be accurate to have an impact - see Swift boaters for proof
      7. Corporations can deploy far more complex web tools than the average citizen using blogger.
      8. Citizens cannot afford to run a long term "high cost" endevour to affect political discourse, corporations can.
      9. Blogging is being transformed. Both with the advent of podcasts and now video podcasting - these are time consuming and expensive to produce - corporations can more easily fund these and produce higher quality ones.
      10. Corporations typically lag early adopters but soon catch up and swallow everything
      •  One by One (none)
        1. a large number of blogs are one way - with no comments.

        And how many people read them (much less heed them), compared to, say, DailyKos or Atrios?  Of cours, right-wing bloggers are given far more respect by the US Corporate Media than are liberal bloggers (even though liberal blogs have 3x the readership and are much more trustworthy in general), but then that means that (once again) The Media Is The Problem, not us.

        What makes DKos and Atrios and the other major lefty blogs so popular?  The fact that we CAN talk back to their owners.  So yes, comments and diaries are important.

        2. Paid workers can be far more talented and prolific than a citizen blogger

        Talented at what?  

        3. Corporations have far more tools at their disposal than citizen bloggers, especially ties to MSM to push their content

        Then the problem, again, is with the media, not us.  But remember:  The righty blogs, which are often quite polished and technically adroit (compare the front page of Power Line to that of Eschaton or even DailyKos), are losing readership even as the lefty blogs are gaining it.

        4. Corporations are inherently gifted at propaganda since a large chunk of their business is advertising

        Ever visit Bush's 2000 and 2004 websites?  They stank to high heaven.  Money can't buy everything.

        But corporations don't need "blogs" to do their dirty work, even online.  They have Drudge, for one, and he predates blogs.  They also have FreeRepublic.com, for another.  It doesn't make sense to cripple the blogosphere just as the (communitarian, cooperative, diary-writing) lefties are starting to show that they can use it more effectively than the (top-down, authoritarian, no comments allowed) righties.

        5. Information doesnt have to be untrue for it to be damaging. Not everything is black and white.

        And it doesn't have to be on a blog for it to be damaging, either.  The "Swift Boat" smears were TV ads that the Corporate Media couldn't be bothered to stop running, even after they'd been debunked repeatedly.

        6. Information doesnt have to be accurate to have an impact - see Swift boaters for proof

        Again, the Swift Boaters did their damage on TV, where they reached millions of Americans who didn't even know what a blog is.

        7. Corporations can deploy far more complex web tools than the average citizen using blogger.

        See answer to #3 above.  It can be slick, but slickness ain't enough, especially if it's not accurate and doesn't allow for reader interaction and instant feedback.

        8. Citizens cannot afford to run a long term "high cost" endevour to affect political discourse, corporations can.

        But throwing on all sorts of regulations on blogs will ensure that only those rich enough to be able to hire experts able to wade through paperwork and bureaucratese will be able to have blogs, or online orgs like MoveOn.org.  (Remember, MoveOn.org cost its founders something like $85 to found -- and look at how well it's done.)

        9. Blogging is being transformed. Both with the advent of podcasts and now video podcasting - these are time consuming and expensive to produce - corporations can more easily fund these and produce higher quality ones.

        See #3.  Just because it's slicker doesn't mean it's better.

        10> Corporations typically lag early adopters but soon catch up and swallow everything

        You mean like IBM swallowed up Microsoft in the early 1980s?  Oh, wait, that didn't actually happen.  (Or like how Microsoft crushed Firefox in 2004?  Oh, wait, that didn't happen, either.)

        Corporations are big, but they get hidebound as they age and grow.  They can't move with the lightning-fast speed of a blogger.

        They can make fancy-dancy websites/podcasts/mudpies/etc., but that doesn't mean that people will pay attention to them.

        •  Why one-way fails (none)
          Then the problem, again, is with the media, not us.  But remember:  The righty blogs, which are often quite polished and technically adroit (compare the front page of Power Line to that of Eschaton or even DailyKos), are losing readership even as the lefty blogs are gaining it.

          There's a good reason for this.  A one-way blog is ultimately only driven by a single person saying what they think.  Invariably if the positions of the blogging audience or the blogger change, the audience must necessarily change, generally fading away.  With a two-way system, the community is the blog and as the community changes, the blog changes.  

          I mean think about this.  Is there any way that Andrew Sullivna's site is likely to become an outpost for marxist propaganda?  No.  But there's nothing to keep DailyKOS from becoming a backer of ultra-right fascists.  If the community wants to go there, it'll go there unless Kos shuts down the site in frustration.  

          --- If trickle down economics worked, Marie Antoinette wouldn't have lost her head

          by sterno on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 01:03:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree (none)
        Paid workers can be far more talented and prolific than a citizen blogger

        "can be".  The only advantage typically granted the paid talent over joe citizen is access.  But look what we have now.  We've got independent blogs run by people who have those connections.  We have soldiers in the field blogging about their experiences.  

        Corporations have far more tools at their disposal than citizen bloggers, especially ties to MSM to push their content

        It's not that simple.  If you take an audience that watches fox news and get them to go to a fox news blog, that isn't increasing their power at all.  It's merely giving them another way to communicate to the same audience in the same way.  It doesn't increase their influence in any significant way.

        Corporations are inherently gifted at propaganda since a large chunk of their business is advertising

        But does them being able to spread their propaganda on the Internet make any big difference here?  I would argue that it will be harder for them to pull that stuff on-line because it's so much easier to cross-reference them with information that discredits them.

        Information doesnt have to be untrue for it to be damaging. Not everything is black and white.

        Information doesnt have to be accurate to have an impact - see Swift boaters for proof

        The major difference with the Internet is how fragmented it is.  If a story goes to the MSM all of the major news networks will likely carry it in a pretty similar way, give or take Fox News.  On the other hand, information circulated on the Internet comes from a thousand different places and analysis and perspective can be applied to it.  

        Corporations can deploy far more complex web tools than the average citizen using blogger.

        Tell me one site you visited and thought, I love this site because it has far more complex web tools.

        Citizens cannot afford to run a long term "high cost" endevour to affect political discourse, corporations can.

        When was DailyKOS created?

        Blogging is being transformed. Both with the advent of podcasts and now video podcasting - these are time consuming and expensive to produce - corporations can more easily fund these and produce higher quality ones.

        I made a podcast.  You can make one too.  Video podcasting?  Grab a camera.  Go record something.  How hard is that?  You don't have to pay for satellite time or anything.  Hell even the bandwidth comes cheap because you can just use bittorrent to distribute it.  Creating isn't the hard part, it's getting eyeballs to see it.  

        But that's where the internet also takes power away from corporations because the Internet memes spread by word of mouth.  Ultimately propaganda doesn't travel as far as the truth because eventually propaganda hits somebody who smells the BS and they call it out.  

        Corporations typically lag early adopters but soon catch up and swallow everything

        What is there to swallow here?  The thing is that blogs are communities.  Corporations can't make communities and they can't control communities.  They can create a place for a community to form, but the shape of the community ultimately takes it's own course.  How much control does Kos have over this place?  Almost none I'd argue.  Sure he came in with an idea and drew a crowd, but it's ultimate direction is beyond him.  If he tried to control it, it'd probably die.

        --- If trickle down economics worked, Marie Antoinette wouldn't have lost her head

        by sterno on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 12:59:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  what about pooling (none)
    We are going to see blogs have their "kos dozen" directing readers to give via actblue. Doesn't the organizer of these efforts posses influence that ought to be regulated ?

    To me it seems a circumvention of the point of a PAC.

    I run a PAC and direct our members and readers to donate to it, and we can then disperse that money to candidates and issues, and its all regulated. Any influence our PAC has is regulated and limited.

    It seems by being able to circumvent this and direct people to give to actblue hides the influence of the requester.

    Bundling ought to be regulated wherever it is generated.

  •  First amendment (none)
    Doesn't the organizer of these efforts posses influence that ought to be regulated ?

    No
    If someone by means of persuasion builds up an audience who have confidence in his judgement wants to put a link to a political website, that is his right under the first amendment.

    Remember, individual readers make the donations, not the blogger. So the campaign reports all those donations. And no, they should not be asked to boil that report down to how much was generated from which web site, enough is enough.

    •  i disagree (none)
      from political wire
      from Newsweek: "President Bush last week appointed nine campaign contributors, including three longtime fund-raisers, to his Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a 16-member panel of individuals from the private sector who advise the president on the quality and effectiveness of U.S. intelligence efforts."
      and that is why.

      Do i want some sleb on a website who pooled 200k getting a job like that, or one at fema ? I dont think so not without transparency.

      •  Agreed (none)
        This is dead on right.  As someone who has worked in a legislative arena, you can pool in a number of ways.  Corps and some interest groups have been slow to adopt the Internet for this purpose but if they see the web as a way around McCain-Feingold they will use it.  One has to have a little forthought.  Maybe they didn't use it in 2004 but remember the Dems were ahead of the Rs on 527s in early 2004.  Don't count on that in 2006 and the same may be true for the web.

        The FEC should not regulate what bloggers say, ask them to register if they spend above a certain amount, etc but blogs should not be exempt from McCain Feingold soft money rules.  If that means no Koz Dozen, so be it.  

        Besides, there are ways to regulate soft money and for blogs to still be able to have free speech and help candidates.  Rather than headlines and posts imploring contributions, implore people to help candidates and link them to the candidates website.  The candidate will still get the money if people choose to help in this manner.  Of course, the blogger can't track the amount given and take credit but that's life.  

  •  Unfortunately for Democracy, there is a mechanism (none)
    You said:

    Unlike every other medium which the FEC regulates, there is no mechanism by which entities can use wealth or organizational strength to crowd out or silence other speakers,

    But there is a mechanism.  Lobbyists can cause our legislators to enact laws that effectively muzzle the citizens on the internet.  And that is exactly what they WILL do, because our government strives to stamp out Democracy and the voice of the people at every opportunity.

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