Thursday, March 24, 2005

RedState bloggerspondent sits in on FEC meeting

Okay, so bloggerspondent isn't a real word (though I did find one hit on Google) but anyway, this from Mike Krempasky over at Redstate.org.

He doesn't care for what he heard (nor do I, as the portions I show in bold attest):

I attended the FEC hearing to release the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking governing Internet activity this morning. I have much to say about that hearing, but more important - the draft rule released today. I regret that I've been unable to post anything substantive as yet - and I'll have to wait another hour to do so.

But - I will say this - don't believe the hype, and don't believe Ellen Weintraub when she repeats her mantra of "Bloggers, Chill Out!" This draft rule, (yes, it's a draft that will change) creates an unacceptable regulatory minefield for bloggers.

Consider this - the FEC raises two significant possible "havens" for political bloggers - the "volunteer" exception and the "media" exception. The volunteer exception is preferable, because it's a sort of shall-issue exception. If you're an individual, and you're "uncompensated" - you're pretty much free to go (except..the FEC also considers an individual to only be allowed to spend a "nominal fee" in the course of providing services to a candidate or committee. Do you think the FEC realizes that the hosting tab for a moderately poplular weblog can reasonably cost $1,000 a year?) do what you want.

On the other hand - if you're a group, an incorporated blog, or you get compensated - no exception for you. (more on that in a bit)

On the other hand - the media exception will pretty much be extended on a case-by-case basis. Who decides? Why, the government of course. Welcome to regulatory compliance hell. Even better - it heavily resembles a licensing regulatory scheme, since presumably you have to submit to the FEC to get the exception before you do or say anything, lest you violate the law.

Again, more on all of this in a little while - and let me say that clearly the FEC is listening, as they've addressed every point in the letter from the Online Coalition. They've just managed to do so in a way that might create just as many problems as they intend to solve.