Thursday, February 14, 2002

"Campaign finance reform" vs. Bloggers?

A couple of weeks ago I sent an email to the World's Busiest Man, Glenn Reynolds, seeking an opinion on whether campaign finance legislation would impact blogging. I haven't seen anything back. That's cool, I have no claim on his time - I just took that as a 'no'.

Maybe he's more interested now that the campaign finance silliness has passed the House. Rand Simberg is on the case. Any legal eagles care to weigh in?

I'm not an attorney, but I'm sure the law will be abused. Surely nobody who signed off on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) ever dreamed that it would be used against abortion protesters as it was. Whoops, somebody said something a litigious group doesn't like - next thing you know there's a lawsuit against the blogger, anybody he links to, and anybody who links to him. Is that what they call a "chilling effect"?

Some Congressmen might think that they're being clever, passing a law that they can use against their opposition. Just like the Democrats were when they passed independent counsel legislation, or Bill Clinton was when he signed the bill that gave rise to the Paula Jones affair. The other side will eventually learn to use the new rules to their advantage, and then the rules will be changed again.

We've been through a cycle of that before with campaign finance reform. Republicans couldn't have done a thing about the post-Watergate reforms, and you can bet the Democrats stacked the deck in their favor. But nowadays Republicans are raising more money than the Dems, so behold! - it's time for another rule change.

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