Friday, March 11, 2005

The Online Coalition :: Letter to the FEC

The Online Coalition :: Letter to the FEC

Indeed! Please click the links, sign the letter and voice your opinion on this important issue: free speech!

March 11, 2005

The Honorable Scott E. Thomas
Federal Election Commission
999 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20463

Re: Upcoming FEC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking governing political activity on the internet

Dear Chairman Thomas,

We are concerned about the potential impact that Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s decision in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Shays v. FEC, 337 F. Supp. 2d 28 (D.D.C. 2004) and the FEC’s upcoming rulemaking process may have on political communication on the Internet.

One area of great concern is the potential regulation of bloggers and other online journalists who distribute political news and commentary exclusively over the web. While paid political advertising on the Internet should remain subject to FEC rules and regulations, curtailing blogs and other online publications will dampen the impact of new voices in the political process and will do a disservice to the millions of voters who rely on the web for original, insightful political commentary.

Under the current rules, “any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication,” is exempt from reporting and coordination requirements. It is not clear, however, that the FEC’s “media exemption” provides sufficient protection for those of us in the online journalism community.

As bipartisan members of the online journalism, blogging, and advertising community, we ask that you grant blogs and online publications the same consideration and protection as broadcast media, newspapers, or periodicals by clearly including them under the Federal Election Commission’s “media exemption” rule.

In order to ensure that there are sufficient measures taken, we also request that the FEC promulgate a rule exempting unpaid political activity on the Internet from regulation, thereby guaranteeing every American’s right to speak freely and participate in our democratic process.

Finally, we ask that you clarify the rules and definitions related to “coordinated activity” to protect bloggers and journalists from running afoul of Commission rules regarding the republication of campaign materials.

The Internet is a fundamental tool in the American political process. Just this week, we learned that 75 million Americans used the Internet to gather news, read commentary, discuss issues, register to vote, and generally join in the democratic process during the last election cycle. We believe the Internet is the primary driving force behind increased participation among traditionally under-represented groups of voters, and we applaud the Federal Election Committee for crafting rules that have allowed the Internet to flourish as a political communications medium.

Like the town hall meeting, online political activism is a vital part of American civic life. We encourage the FEC to provide bloggers, online journalists, and everyday cyber-citizens with the same freedoms that individuals and traditional journalists are free to exercise elsewhere. The Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 was intended to prevent unlimited soft money contributions and regulate electioneering advertising, not to stifle free speech or grassroots activities on the Internet that serve the common good.


Morra Aarons
Kerry-Edwards 2004
Washington, DC
R. Rebecca Donatelli
Campaign Solutions
Alexandria, VA
Jerome Armstrong
Burlington, VT
John Durham
Pericles Consulting
San Francisco, CA
Kevin Aylward
Potomac Falls, VA
Patrick Hynes
Ankle Biting Pundits
Annapolis, MD
Michael Bassik
MSHC Partners
Washington, DC
Clay Johnson
Blue State Digital
Washington, DC
Peter Daou
Daou Report
Washington, DC
Michael Krempasky
Falls Church, VA
Michelle Malkin
Syndicated Columnist/Author
Germantown, MD
Chuck Muth
Citizen Outreach
Washington, DC
Kevin McCullough
The Kevin McCullough Show
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
Brian Reich
Boston, MA
Nicco Mele
Washington, DC
Micah Sifry
Personal Democracy Forum
New York, NY
Ed Morrissey
Captain’s Quarters
Minneapolis, MN
Dan Solomon
Mindshare Interactive
Washington, DC
Markos Moulitsas
Daily Kos
Berkeley, California
Matthew Stoller
Blogging of the President
Washington, DC
Chuck DeFeo
Arlington, VA
Mark Tapscott
Heritage Foundation
Center for Media & Public Policy
Washington, DC

Hat Tip: Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit

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