25 July 2007

Group blogs are not political committees

John Bambenek has filed a complaint with the FEC alleging that liberal super-blog Daily Kos is a "political committee" and therefore subject to the FEC's stringent rules on communications and finance. This would have the effect of significantly curtailing the discussions on that blog (half a million daily readers and counting), possibly shutting it down.

I don't know Bambenek and can't speak to his motivation, though he provides some explanation here. I do think he's wrong on the facts and the law, and I think this is an issue the FEC has already considered and settled.

I find it fitting and appropriate that the blogs jumping to Kos' defense on this issue are top-tier conservatives like Instapundit and Red State.

This defense isn't indicative of some secret gentlemen's agreement between the top blogs on the left and right to skirt proper regulatory authority and make a buck. This is everyone coming together to recognize that the political discussions they've started over the past few years are a vibrant and vital component of democracy.

Even if the only thing we read on political blogs is the expletive-laden description of the latest outrage from the other side, we should take great steps to protect that speech. Protecting political speech and discussions that criticize the government is the precise reason we have the first amendment.

Furthermore, we're forgetting the incredible progress we've made in such a short time in terms of accessibility to candidates. Look at all the chatter about the "Youtube debates." The mere existence of new information technology has not suddenly transformed the electoral process into a global discussion. We needed thought leaders to show us the way, and that leadership has come from bloggers who applied this technology to provide unprecedented access to the political process for millions of citizens. This is a fundamental, cultural shift - "ordinary" people are beginning to feel a level of ownership over the process. This can only be a good thing.

If you look at the big picture, the most important discussions are just starting. Let's let everyone have their say.

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