CRP Blog

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Campaign Finance Laws Giving Government Excuse to Regulate Online Content

Chairman of the California Republican Party
Fox & Hounds Daily

Thankfully, Internet content remains largely free of government intrusion and regulation. Americans are increasingly going online for news, to plan their travel, and perform other everyday tasks like banking and keeping up with relatives. They’re also going online for the information they need to determine how they will vote. As candidates and parties consequently step up their online presence, outdated campaign finance laws are giving the bureaucrats a new opening to impose restrictions and regulations on Internet content.

Consider Scott Wagner, the candidate for St. Petersburg mayor whom the Florida Elections Commission ordered to take down an online ad because it didn’t include a “Paid for by” disclaimer. Wagner argued the “paid for by” disclaimer should not have been required because it was only “paid for” by someone once it was clicked on, not before.

The possibilities for absurd regulation of online campaign content are endless. Consider this: As the FPPC takes a look at regulations involving California state and local candidates, should Twitter or Facebook recommending a candidate’s page or account be followed constitute an in-kind contribution? It will be interesting to see what the FPPC says, for if it determines such recommendations are in-kind contributions, will the Federal Election Commission do the same? If so, such Twitter and Facebook recommendations would constitute an illegal corporate in-kind contribution to the candidate.

Taken a step further, will the operators of sites such as Twitter and Facebook be required to track which accountholders are candidates, or potential candidates? And if these rules become too silly or complicated, what of sites that choose to be based outside of the United States? What if they are already? How much does it take to transfer your website to a server in Mexico?

So here we see the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent as regulatory busybodies in 50 states, six territories and the federal government all potentially consider how to impose new rules on Internet content all in the name of “fairness.”

Many of today’s state and federal campaign laws have their origin in the 1970’s, and today’s bureaucrats are attempting to apply those rules to a rapidly changing 21st century communications environment where websites and email are giving way to Twitter and Facebook as the latest communications powerhouses, often with little or no marginal costs to candidates. Government bureaucrats will never be able to keep up with the changes in how American voters and candidates are communicating.

Perhaps this is a time to consider an alternative to promulgating thousands of additional pages of regulations governing political speech, and instead consider taking steps deregulating and decriminalizing political advocacy and discourse. Today’s governor’s race in Virginia is being waged in a state with no contribution limits to state candidates, and none of the reams of regulations that typically govern the application of such limits to fundraising, spending, and the like. Seems like democracy is functioning pretty well without such restrictions on speech. The bureaucrats should take notice.


Link to posting here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

President Obama's Pattern of Bad Policies and Failed Efforts

President Obama's most recent failure to get the 2016 Olympics to come to Chicago, is just another example of how Obama's "hope" and "change" mantra has, in reality, only produced disappointment and failure.

President Obama's inability to push Chicago through even the first round of the Olympic selection process, despite his lobbying trip to Denmark, highlights a developing pattern of failed efforts and faulty policy decisions by this president and his administration.

To refresh your memory, let's take a quick look at the some major failed reforms and proposals, both domestic and international, that Obama has spearheaded in only his first 9 months as president. Keep this in mind; these failures occurred while the Democrats are the majority leader in both houses of congress.

Stimulus - President Obama and the democrats rammed the nearly $800 billion dollar stimulus bill through congress as quickly as possible, promising that the stimulus package would "create or save 3½ million jobs over the next two years" and "would keep unemployment under 8%." Not only has this expanded the reach of government into private industry, but thousands of people continued to lose jobs every month at a record paced and employment in U.S. has reached 9.8%.

Obama's Stimulus Package: Failed

Healthcare - President Obama ‘guaranteed' that his universal healthcare reform would get passed this year. Lack of public support, inaccurate accounting for the cost of the bill, and push back from members of his own democrat party, has stalled his version of the healthcare bill from even getting out of a congress that is controlled by his own party.

Obama's Healthcare Bill: Failed

Foreign Policy - President Obama has traveled down the dangerous path of appeasing and playing nice with nations that wish us ill in hopes that they will play nice with us. He has tried to open a friendly dialogue with Iran without any preconditions and for this Iran recently admitted to having a second nuclear plant, and by all appearances, is closer than ever to developing nuclear weapons with no intention to stop. In addition, he pulled the plug on the US's missile defense shield in order to appease Russia. We abandoned and angered all of our allies in Eastern Europe, yet Russia is still not playing any nicer.

Obama's Foreign Policies: Failed

Closing Gitmo - One of the first things that President Obama did when he took office was to sign an executive order which set a deadline of January 22, 2010 for closing the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. But President Obama's plan is stalling and has already missed key initial deadlines. The Senate voted 90-6 against appropriating funds for closing the base. The House also went on record last week opposing bringing Gitmo detainees to the US.

Obama's Plan to Close Gitmo: Failed

The War in Afghanistan - President Obama has taken a stand pat approach in Afghanistan and continues to ignore the requests of his top commanders for the deployment of more troops to fight the growing strength of the Taliban. Not only is he not giving General McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the men he has requested, but he has ordered them to stop bombing before they go into areas, which means we don't suppress the terrorists - making our troops more vulnerable to attack and raising the casualty toll.

Obama's Promise to Improve the War in Afghanistan: Failed

Although these are the most glaring, these are only a fraction of the failures that the Obama Administration has compiled in the infancy of his term.

Let's hope the US Olympic team performs better in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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