Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bennett Amendment: Bloggers as Lobbyists

With only a few more regular readers, OK quite a few more, but not that much more, I would qualify as a Lobbyist--if I actually made some money. Wow, this internets thingy sure has Congress' panties in a wad. They obviously don't like the white hot light of truth shining on their dirty dealings. Can you say "OINK"?

Here's this from Wizbang:

The issue is many blogs make some money via advertising, sometimes from grassroots organizations. Many blogs like Wizbang, also try to influence the general public, i.e. their readers on policy issues such as this one. The language of Section 220 is vague enough that blogs could fall under the purview of this law, making some bloggers required to register with the government as a lobbyist.

I asked Senator DeMint if it was true that Section 220 could force grassroots groups, including bloggers, to register with the US government as lobbyists. To me, this whole thing sounds so goofy that it had to have been misreported, but Senator DeMint said that from what he can tell, Section 220 could actually cause bloggers to be defined as a grassroots organization.

Tonight, the Senate votes on an amendment sponsored by Republican Bill Bennett to strip Section 220 from S.1. and The Hill is reporting that Senator John McCain, who previously supported Section 220, has publicly announced that he will vote to strip the offending section from the bill. Smart move, as Senator McCain, who is running for president, is not in good standing the conservative base of the Republican party because of his Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. The Hill piece also provides this quote, which is a good summary of the issue:

"Under Section 220, anyone who is paid anything by an organization that spends any money at all to encourage more than 500 members of the general public to communicate with members of Congress, if he or she also has contacted congressional offices directly as few as two times, and has spent as little as 20 percent of his or her time on such direct lobbying and grassroots-motivating activities, would be required to register with Congress as a 'lobbyist' and file detailed quarterly reports," wrote Johnson in a letter to Senate offices, adding, "If enacted, it will disrupt the constitutionally protected activities of thousands of issue-oriented citizen groups from coast to coast. ..."

Even the ACLU has teamed up with the Traditional Values Coalition to fight Reid's attempt to silence his critics.

This didn't pass, but the vote was down party lines. Hmm.... I feel my civil liberties being encroached...... Is the Left worried about their lawmakers hindering their free speech?

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