It looks like the fuss raised by bloggers over the FEC’s interpretation of the McCain Feingold legislation has paid some dividends.
The Federal Election Commission also proposed that online-only news outlets and that even individual bloggers should be treated as legitimate journalists and immune from laws that could count their political endorsements as campaign contributions.
The 47-page outline of proposed rules (click here for PDF file) takes a cautious approach to the explosive question of how Web sites and e-mail should be regulated, with the FEC saying throughout that its conclusions are only tentative ones and inviting public comment. The comment process is expected to be approved by the FEC at its meeting Thursday.
Ever since FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith warned of the possibility of a crackdown on bloggers in an interview with CNET News.com in early March, politicians and political junkies have been closely following the commission’s deliberations. While one senator has proposed a near-complete inoculation of the Internet, some of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act’s original sponsors have warned of “creating loopholes” through insufficiently aggressive regulations.
“These proposals are intended to ensure that political committees properly finance and disclose their Internet communications, without impeding individual citizens from using the Internet to speak freely regarding candidates and elections,” the FEC said in a statement.
I ma never comfortable with letting political speech be regulated by unelected bureaucrats. If they can grant the power today, and we allow it because it is in our interests, they can also take it away later when it also serves their interests.