In July, the Federal Election Commission dismissed a complaint filed by the liberal Campaign Legal Center (CLC) against America Progress Now (APN). CLC alleged that APN had technically violated federal campaign finance regulations by failing to include required disclaimers for political ads on Facebook Ads run by APN's Facebook page. CLC also insinuated that APN was a "fake political group." However, CLC's real motive was not to get the small potatoes APN. The Commission made the decision to dismiss the Campaign Legal Center's complaint unanimously. In FEC Chairman Trey Trainor's Statement of Reasons for the complaint's dismissal, he raised concerns how a technical violation could be used to chill free speech.Read more
FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub is attacking political speech on Twitter again, this time objecting to an op-ed in the Washington Post praising Facebook's decision to allow micro-targeting of political ads. As we have described many times in this blog, not only does Commissioner Weintraub want online political speech to be extensively regulated, apparently she is also opposed to allowing those who disseminate their speech online to do so in a "cost-effective" way:Read more
Yesterday, Twitter announced that it would not carry any political ads (broadly defined to include issue ads as in the Honest Ads Act/SHIELD Act) on its platform. Under current law, this is perfectly permissible. It contrasts with the approach taken by Facebook, which announced recently that it would not decide truth and falsity in political ads. Democrats and the mainstream media were quick to praise the decision:Read more
This morning, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been a steadfast defender of First Amendment rights, spoke on the Senate floor about the SHIELD Act under consideration by the House today. He called it "the latest installment in Speaker Pelosi’s campaign to expand government’s control over Americans’ political speech."
Speaker Pelosi's current crusade against Americans' political speech rights began with H.R. 1, and the SHIELD Act contains portions of H.R. 1, the Honest Ads, and other dangerous provisions. The RNLA sent a letter to the House opposing it.Read more
SHIELD Act Would Regulate Americans' Political Speech Instead of Preventing Foreign Election Interference
Yesterday, the Committee on House Administration marked up the SHIELD Act (H.R. 4617, Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy Act). The SHIELD Act contains the provisions of the Honest Ads Act, plus additional dangerous provisions.
If passed, it would likely have very little effect on foreign efforts to influence or interfere with U.S. elections. Instead, it would regulate Americans seeking to exercise their First Amendment rights, with the effect of restricting political speech.
The RNLA sent a letter to the House opposing the SHIELD Act:Read more
Former FEC Chair and RNLA Board of Governors member Lee Goodman penned a column in The Hill laying bare the inadequacies of the Honest Ads Act pending in Congress.
Goodman writes that the bill would “severely restrict the First Amendment rights of American citizens and media companies but barely impact foreign meddlers.”
To address the kind of foreign meddling witnessed in 2016, Goodman recommends that Congress amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) to apply directly to foreign propagandists like the Internet Research Agency. The law currently applies only to the U.S.-based agents of foreign principals. House Democrats are expected to push a version of the Honest Ads Act when Congress returns next week.Read more
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has jurisdiction to issue regulations and enforce federal campaign finance laws; in other words, to interpret and enforce the regulation of Americans' political speech, which is protected by the First Amendment.
For years, Democrats have attempted to expand regulation of political speech through onerous disclaimer, disclosure, and reporting requirements; low contribution limits; making the FEC a partisan body controlled by the President's party (such as in H.R. 1 and the perennial DISCLOSE Act); outright speech prohibitions; and even through spending limits (which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional back in Buckley v. Valeo).
With the resignation of Republican FEC Commissioner Matt Petersen, the FEC is back in the news.Read more
You would think House Democrats' first bill would be something that polled well for their base or that the public cared about. Or maybe it would be something crazy and liberal like unofficial House Democrat spokesperson Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's idea for “reparations...for...the New Deal.” Nope. In HR 1 House Democrats made their first bill since gaining control of the House about limiting speech (and therefore criticism of them) and rigging election processes in their favor. As House Administration Committee Republicans state:Read more