Saturday, June 04, 2005

Protect Bloggers Free Speech Rights -

Open Letter to the Federal Election commission

Attention - This post is good for archive and historical purposes only. The FEC has stopped taking comments. All emails sent to the FEC address below will be returned as undeliverable -

Sailor in the Desert has written an open letter to the Federal Election Commission and has kindly set it free on the internet to anyone who wishes to use all or part of it in crafting a letter to the FEC.

Be sure to include your name and mailing address: -

In case you missed the news Sailor has that covered too. (click here for his complete story) - A Sailor Quote - Back last fall, a federal court judge decided that the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act some how needed to include the Internet as part of that regulation. The FEC has been ordered to apply this law to the Net. This could have the effect of ending the free political speech of bloggers. Why the FEC never appealed this ruling is beyond me. Both Senators McCain and Feingold are on the record as stating that their Bill was never intended to stifle the free political speech of bloggers. Either the FEC needs to appeal this decision or Congress needs to pass legislation exempting the Internet and specifically bloggers from the reach of McCain-Feingold. - end quote - - He also has a link to a Washington Post Editorial that is wishy washy as far as I'm concerned. Below is Sailor's Letter. Use it as you wish as a template for your own or cut and paste those parts you feel most applicable to your feelings on the matter. Email it to your friends. Include this line:

- Be sure to include your name and mailing address: -

An Open Letter to the Federal Election Commission

To the Commissioners of the Federal Election Commission:

One of the most basic founding principles of this country was and is the right of free political speech. This possible attempt to regulate the blogs is flies directly in the face of that principle.

Consider this; The blogosphere is the electronic equivalent of the Town Square. Bloggers are those people, that in a bygone era would be upon a soap box in that town square, expressing their political beliefs. That being said, the government should no more attempt to regulate the free political speech of the bloggers, then it would have attempted to silence the citizen on that very soap box in the town square.

Having read some of the reasoning for this hearing, I have to wonder if the FEC will soon be trying to attempt to assess the worth of the campaign volunteer, who goes door-to-door handing out a candidates literature or spends time manning the phone banks. How much is a volunteer's time worth to any campaign? The FEC would not even consider assessing that volunteer's time as a campaign contribution. So why would the FEC even consider trying to assess the value of a bloggers link to a candidate's web site as a campaign contribution?

Any attempt by the FEC to regulate the political speech of any blogger is clearly a violation of the First Amendment and not at all what campaign finance reform was attempting to do.

Clearly, McCain-Feingold, was never intended to include the regulation of the free political speech of bloggers. Senators McCain and Feingold are both on the record saying this. As I see it, the Commissioners have a few paths they can go down:

1) They can table this and await legislation from the Congress clarifying the status of the blogs.
2) They can appeal the court's decision, which I believe they should have done in the first place.
3) They can extend the press exemption to the blogs.
4) They can release a firestorm and put in place rules unconstitutionally regulating the rights of free speech of bloggers.

In conclusion, let me say this, if the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.

Thanks Sailor!