The FEC Rules In Favor Of Bloggers
The Federal Elections Commission issued a major ruling in favor of the people yesterday in the matter of how blogs are treated in their relationship to campaigns. Ruling on a complaint file against Kos Media LLC and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. Make no mistake about it, I think Zuniga is detestable little twit and a stone cold fabulist , that most of those who comment on his site are only little different to one side or the other of that Bell Curve and I don’t think political discourse in this country would suffer one whit if he went away tonight. Despite it’s reputation as something of an online Tourette’s convention, it should not be regulated by the federal government. Or any government.
In Matter Under Review (MUR) 5928, the Commission determined that Kos Media, L.L.C., which operates the website DailyKos, did not violate the Federal Election Campaign Act. The Commission rejected allegations that the site should be regulated as a political committee because it charges a fee to place advertising on its website and it provides “a gift of free advertising and candidate media services” by posting blog entries that support candidates. The Commission determined that the website falls squarely within the media exemption and is therefore not subject to federal regulation under the Act.
Since 1974, media activity has been explicitly exempted from federal campaign finance regulation. In March 2006, the Commission made clear that this exemption extends to online media publications and that “costs incurred in covering or carrying a news story, commentary, or editorial by any broadcasting station. . . , Web site, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, including any Internet or electronic publication,” are not a contribution or expenditure unless the facility is owned by a political party, committee, or candidate. With respect to MUR 5928, the FEC found that Kos Media meets the definition of a media entity and that the activity described in the complaint falls within the media exemption. Thus, activity on the DailyKos website does not constitute a contribution or expenditure that would trigger political committee status. The Commission therefore found no reason to believe Kos Media, DailyKos.com, or Markos Moulitsas Zuniga violated federal campaign finance law.
Had the FEC ruled against Kos Media the ability of bloggers to advocate for or against candidates would have been severely curtailed and many, if not most, of us would simply be unable to comply with the regulatory filings.