Blogger or Lobbyist?

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When does a blogger cease to be a blogger and become a political special interest lobbyist or action group? In a bill being hotly debated, Democrats say it is when a blogger is making a living at politics.

As ZDNet reports:

Much of the bill's wording is obtuse. But one section says that certain political bloggers who make or spend $25,000 per quarter and who encourage readers to contact their elected representatives would be forced to register as lobbyists--or face up to 10 years in prison.

I have received a few emails from folks alerting me that this bill could cost my privacy or jail time as a political blogger. So, I went looking for information. Folks are becoming alarmed for no reason, in my opinion. If I were making $25,000 every 3 months advocating political action, or spending $100,000 per year of another special interest political organization's money advocating their cause as a blogger, I would not consider myself a 1st Amendment blogger anymore. I would be a paid political operative or political action lobbyist like Exxon's lobbyists or the ACLU's lobbyists. As such, I see no foul in having to register with the Federal Elections Commission which has the responsibility of tracking whose money is trying to buy legislation and politicians.

In ZDNet's article, opponents of the Democrat's bill are saying:

The controversial requirement lies in Section 220 of the massive bill, which supporters of the legislation say is intended to curb the practice of lobbyists setting up "astroturf" groups. But in a conference call on Thursday, a broad range of groups including the ACLU, the Free Speech Coalition, the Traditional Values Coalition and National Right To Life said it would hurt their own groups' abilities to influence Congress and place unreasonable restrictions on Internet politicking.

Frankly, I don't see it. How would registering their activities and money for their special interest activities be compromise their ability to influence Congress, UNLESS, their intent is to hide their actions from the public? Knowing whose money is attempting to sway public opinion is vital to understanding whether or not the message being touted is legitimate and in the interest of the public.

If the united federation of scientists are paying bloggers to get the word out that Global Climate Change isn't happening, that is one thing. If Exxon/Mobil is paying bloggers to get that word out, the message has an entirely different meaning.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on January 23, 2007 4:17 AM.

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