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Let the Political Bloggers Blog

It would be wonderful if the Federal Election Commission could, as The Post hopes, rewrite its regulations to protect the free-speech rights of bloggers and to subject Internet advertising to the rules that govern other media.

Unfortunately, since my clients (prominent liberal bloggers) testified before the FEC in June, the commission has dropped to five members and now seems incapable of forming a consensus on these issues. Moreover, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has recommended that the president replace as many as four commissioners whose terms are expiring with pro-regulation allies.

As the 2006 primaries approach, it is questionable whether a newly constituted FEC will have the time or expertise to enact the regulations The Post seeks.

A blanket exemption of the Internet from the definition of public communications, on the other hand, would preserve the flourishing status quo. In 2004 a vibrant blogosphere empowered millions of citizens to influence national politics, leveling the effect of wealth on the electoral process. The low costs of entry, ease of use and infinite bandwidth of the Internet stand as a counterweight to political action committees and other entrenched interests. This citizen participation, however, would be chilled by poorly drafted or complex regulations designed to thwart a threat that remains theoretical.

A temporary exemption would allow Congress and the FEC to determine what problems may require intervention as the medium grows. In the meantime, why rush to regulate for 2006 that which caused no problem in 2004?



The writer is an attorney whose clients include liberal bloggers Markos Moulitsas of and Duncan Black of Eschaton.

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