The outgoing members of the U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) have affirmed the rights of bloggers to comment upon and participate in politics. While the language of the ruling is both straightforward and logical, knowing that new FEC commissioners will be appointed by either John McCain, who views the First Amendment as an impediment to political progress, or Barack Obama, whose party wants to reinstate the Orwellian-sounding "Fairness Doctrine," means that doubts about the ruling's permanence are not unfounded.
The Heritage Foundation's Dave Mason writes on The Foundry blog:
Bloggers and web site operators may support, oppose, link to, and work cooperatively with federal political candidates. This freedom was reaffirmed when the newly re-constituted Federal Election Commission released its first two enforcement cases August 12.Mason continues:
The Commission’s refusal to regulate blogging and internet sites is not new, but it is notable is that the pro-blogger decision was made within a week or two of the new Commission taking office. Of the scores of items on its docket, the new Commission chose to address this one first: quite likely because they wanted to send a signal to that bloggers are free to engage in politics
Bottom line: by making this case one of the first two it released, the Federal Election Commission reaffirms that bloggers and web site operators may support and oppose political candidates, republish or link to campaign material, and work as closely as they wish with campaigns in doing so.(Thanks to Leslie Carbone for alerting me to this news.)
The one activity that remains subject to FEC regulation is paying for an ad on someone else’s web site supporting or opposing a Federal candidate.