Feds Overreach on Election Regulation
The FEC claims authority over regulating press coverage of elections.
by A. Barton Hinkle, Reason, December 7, 2015
Few ideas infuriate your garden-variety American liberal more than the idea that restrictions on campaign finance infringe on the First Amendment. "Money isn't speech!" he yells. And nowhere is that sentiment more strongly held than among the indigenous species of the American media landscape, who have far more at stake in the debate than they realize, as two recent developments show.
Last week the Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by A-1 A-Lectrician, a modest family electrical company in Hawaii that sponsored some political advertisements back in 2010. The ads were the typical cri de couer of the average Joe ("THE REPRESENTATIVES WE PUT INTO OFFICE DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE VALUES THAT MADE OUR NATION GREAT. THE GREATEST OF THESE VALUES IS AN ALOHA FOR OUR FELLOW MAN. REPRESENTATIVES SUCH AS BLAKE OSHIRO AND OTHER REPRESENTATIVES DO NOT SHOW THE ALOHA SPIRIT IN THE WAY THEY DISRESPECT THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS AND THE PEOPLE"). But because CEO Jimmy Yamada spent $9,000 on the ads, he fell afoul of Hawaii law, which requires anyone spending $1,000 or more to influence elections to register as a PAC, with all the attendant bureaucracy that entails.
This is interesting, because the ads Yamada took out appeared in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Yet if the very same words in Yamada's ad had appeared instead as an editorial in that newspaper, they would have been exempt from oversight by Hawaii's government, even though the newspaper, like the electrical company, is a for-profit corporation.
There is no functional difference between the advertisement and an editorial or op/ed column. There is no financial difference, either: Both cost a lot of money to distribute. Which makes you wonder why campaign-finance regulators haven't gone after the press.
Actually, they have….
read … REASON