From Corzine Connection To Blog Regulation
So here we have Matt Stoller, a guy running the Corzine Connection blog, representing bloggers before the FEC – seems an odd choice, no? We were under the impression political party and candidate campaign websites were already covered under campaign finance laws, so why was Stoller among those chosen to testify on this subject? Maybe he was invited to speak on his personal experience with campaigns using bloggers. The again maybe it’s just a matter of his Corzine connection.
Anyway, here are some snips (emphasis ours) from Stoller’s FEC proposal posted on the Blogging on the President site. His ideas for regulation read like a bureaucratic nightmare and it’s unclear what Stoller means by “political actors” in need of regulation. Stoller envisions a “public database for communications” that will “unleash citizens on the problem of corruption.” Yep, that’ll do it.
Thank you for letting bloggers testify about applying campaign finance reform laws to the internet.
As the FEC Commissioners work to apply regulations to the internet to comply with campaign finance legislation, we would like to propose a way that the principles behind the campaign finance legislation - the elimination of corruption and the protection of the First Amendment - can coexist on the internet.
By slightly reinterpreting the phrase 'public communications', our proposal may also allow the FEC to reasonably and responsibly act on the Shays-Meehan lawsuit, without creating an excessively intrusive regulatory architecture.
So let's turn the problem of political corruption from money in the process around, and unleash citizens on the problem of corruption rather than just a regulatory agency. To that end, a wise and unintrusive thing the FEC could do to root out corruption in the campaign world would be to create a public database for communication by Federal political committees.
Creating a system like this will not change the amount of money in politics, but it will do something at least as important - it will change the amount of power money can buy in politics.
Because of the internet, the FEC has an added tool in its toolbox. Aside from telling organized entities what they can and can't do; the commission can now force political actors to consider whether they are willing to be held publicly accountable for their political communications.
There are logistical problems with such a system, and there will be somewhat inconvenient reporting requirements for registered political committees. For instance, web sites and blogs may attract more than 50,000 readers, or they may not (though it's worth noting that archiving these already public communications is not hard, especially if campaigns are told not to unpublish their sites or delete blog posts).
By forcing political actors to disclose not just who gives them money and what they spend it on, but also what they say, the FEC can use the internet to dramatically supplement the current regulatory architecture and better fulfill its established mission.