A: The commission has generally been hands-off on the Internet. We've said, "If you advertise on the Internet, that's an expenditure of money--much like if you were advertising on television or the newspaper."Now this is a big problem, but hurts both sides. So why does Amanda think that "this is nothing more than a bunch of Republicans using their power to shut down citizen influence on a democratic government"?
The real question is: Would a link to a candidate's page be a problem? If someone sets up a home page and links to their favorite politician, is that a contribution? This is a big deal, if someone has already contributed the legal maximum, or if they're at the disclosure threshold and additional expenditures have to be disclosed under federal law.
Certainly a lot of bloggers are very much out front. Do we give bloggers the press exemption? If we don't give bloggers the press exemption, we have the question of, do we extend this to online-only journals like CNET?
Smith is a Republican, true. But the reason the FEC's prior hands-off approach to the internet is coming to an end is because of the ruling by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that "'The commission's exclusion of Internet communications from the coordinated communications regulation severely undermines' the campaign finance law's purposes." Judge Kollar-Kotelly was appointed by a Democrat. The Commission could have appealed her ruling; Smith wanted to. But the three Democratic members of the Commission refused.
So when a Democratic judge and the Democrats on the FEC Commission decide that McCain-Feingold (a bipartisan bill; Feingold = Democrat) should be applied to the internet, how is this a giant Republican conspiracy?
Cripes, I'm a member of neither party, but I do know that Brad Smith is a hard core free speech advocate and that you can't pin the blame for this abortion of a campaign finance law on one side of the aisle. So unless Amanda knows something the rest of us don't about Markos Moulitsas receiving some sort of threatening communique from the bowels of the FEC, I'm baffled.