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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

McCain, Feingold Issue Joint Statement Denying FEC Will Regulate Blogs

Senators John McCain, R-AZ, and Russ Feingold, D-WI, have issued a joint statement denying that the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 with which they are most closely identified will result in regulation of anything but paid political advertising on the Internet.

"This issue has nothing to do with private citizens communicating on the Internet," McCain and Feingold say in the statement. Click on the headline above this post for the full statement on Feingold's Senate web site.

National Journal's Tech Daily, which seems to be first reporting the statement, is also describing a statement Monday by Rep. Christopher Shays, R-CN, in which the chief proponent in the U.S. House of Representatives of the 2002 law said federal officials must consider applying campaign finance rules to Web-based political expenditures.

But Shays qualified that by saying that "blogs, Internet news services and citizens acting on their own should remain free."

UPDATE: Here's the full McCain-Feingold statement:

"As the primary Senate authors of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, we have spent years fighting to clean up elections and ensure that powerful monied interests do not drown out the voices of everyday Americans in our political system. Those interests don't want to give up any of their power, and their main tactic has been to try to whip up fears, however unfounded and unrealistic, about reform.
"The latest misinformation from the anti-reform crowd is the suggestion that our bill will require regulation of blogs and other Internet communications. A recent federal court decision requires the Federal Election Commission to open a new rulemaking on Internet communications.

"The FEC will be looking at whether and how paid advertising on the Internet should be treated, i.e., should it be treated differently than paid advertising on television or radio. This is an important issue -- since BCRA outlawed soft money, we need to make sure that the FEC doesn't try once again to subvert the law by creating loopholes.
"So far, the FEC has not even proposed new regulations. When it does so, there will be ample opportunity for comment and debate about whatever proposal the FEC makes. This issue has nothing to with private citizens communicating on the Internet.
"There is simply no reason - none - to think that the FEC should or intends to regulate blogs or other Internet communications by private citizens. Suggestions to the contrary are simply the latest attempt by opponents of reform to whip up baseless fears. BCRA was intended to empower ordinary citizens, and it has been successful in doing so. We will continue to fight for that goal."

UPDATE II: RedState takes McCain statement apart line-by-line. Here. Enjoy.