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FEC and Bloggers

One of the things I intended to do this week was to write some comments to submit to the Federal Election Commission on the proposed rulemaking on internet communications. I thought I had some original points to make, regarding the ways in which good use of the internet, such as to reduce the transaction costs of small-donor fundraising, can support the goals of campaign finance regulation and thus should not be seen as merely a "loophole." I was also going to suggest that the FEC try to draw a distinction between uses of the internet that resemble broadcast advertising -- short bursts of imformation directed at passive voters, or those who are not seeking political information -- and those uses that involve active participants seeking out information.

But I was having a little trouble fitting those broad comments to the specific questions raised in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and I have not had enough time to work on it. So I think I'll pass, keep what I've written and turn it into an article, and simply endorse the comments of The Online Coalition, available here. This is a very thorough analysis of the issues, respectful of the questions that are literally in the FEC's purview and those that are not; it's readable, responsible and well supported by the factual record. It makes a couple of the points I wanted to make, particularly that "[most] Internet communications are self-selected and non-invasive."

I assume that members of the Coalition have differing views of the underlying campaign finance regulation and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act that these regulations are responding to. I hope so -- I support the law and believe the FEC should make it work. Breaking the direct connection between elected officials and big dollar fundraising, and getting corporate and union money out of the parties were worthwhile activities. The next steps, building on that base, are to make it easier to run for office and encourage small donors -- two things that the internet can help with, but only public financing can really achieve.

It is quite an achievement that the coalition has produced recommendations that opponents as well as supporters of the underlying law can agree on. It's gratifying to see that this whole issue moved to smoothly from the manipulated panic of "The FEC is going to ban blogging" just a few months ago to this very constructive, forward-looking response.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on June 2, 2005 | Permalink


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Tracked on Aug 20, 2005 5:57:02 PM


I must agree that seeking by partisan support on this from the blogosphere is most wise.

Posted by: Jason Gooljar | Jun 2, 2005 7:29:42 AM