The Federal Election Commission Chairman, Lee Goodman, told Sirius-XM Patriot Channel’s David Webb recently that not only would every free political website posting be government regulated under fellow commissioner Amanda Ravel’s proposal, but public figures who give their opinions would also fall under the FEC’s purview.
The FEC publicly released an enforcement case file last week involving an organization that posted free videos it produced which discussed a politician and President Obama specifically.
The allegation against the conservative organization was that these free postings on YouTube should be regulated by the FEC, and the commission voted to dismiss the case. It takes four votes to undertake an enforcement, and the vote split 3/3, meaning that the case died.
“The case was dismissed, because the case did not convince more commissioners. Three commissioners, myself and my Republican colleagues, Caroline Hunter and Matt Peterson, voted to dismiss the case on the basis that three postings on the internet are not regulated by the FEC,” Goodman said.
“Free press rights have been under some attack here at the Commission as well. We have Commissioners who do not believe in robust free press rights and want to begin regulating more and more aspects of the press, even when it discusses politics,” Goodman said.
Webb asked, “What if I do it as a citizen? Even though I’m a public figure, I say, ‘This is David Webb on candidate A. These are my concerns and my thoughts, and I would urge you to vote for candidate B.’ I’m a private citizen. I have a right to speak. Is the goal to say that I should be regulated?”
Goodman responded, “According to Commissioner Ravel’s statement, yes. Under a 2006 regulation adopted unanimously by the commission the answer would be no, and that’s why we dismissed the case that was made public today, because under the 2006 rule-making, the commission exempted from regulation free posts on the internet.” He continued:
That’s your personal website–your personal blog, chat rooms, the message boards. If you want to make your own video and post it online for free, that is exempted from regulation under the 2006 rule making, but now we have an organization that posted two YouTube videos, and I have three commissioners that want to go back and revisit the 2006 exemption. And Commissioner Ravel has written that the commission has ‘turned a blind eye to the internet’s growing force in the political arena.’ And she writes that we need to revisit this and consider regulating YouTube postings.
Goodman later explained that what distinguishes free web postings from television and radio ads is that television and radio space cost money. “The internet is the most democratic invention of public communication history and puts the printing press in the hands of every citizen. That’s why the commission did the right thing in 2006 and freed internet postings of all sorts from regulations.” he said.