The Wall Street Journal has published a hit piece by John Fund in the opinion section this morning. The piece is subtitled: “Congressional Democrats prepare another assault on the First Amendment” http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=1 10010072
Fund admits that “Hardly anyone objects to the [proposed] legislation's requirement that former lawmakers wait two years instead of one before lobbying Congress. Ditto with bans on lobbying by congressional spouses and restrictions on sitting members of Congress negotiating contracts with private entities for future employment.”
But Fund’s justification for his sensationalist puffery is that “the legislation may be amended on the floor to . . . require groups that organize grassroots campaigns to register as ‘lobbyists’ and file detailed quarterly reports on their donors and activities. The law would apply to any group that took in at least $100,000 in any given quarter.”
So, to recap: Democratic sponsored legislation is pending before Congress that would tighten lobbying controls. The bill has hardly any opposition. But there is a possibility of an amendment which would require right-wing e-mail/phone mills to disclose who funds them. Fund believes this possibility constitutes a frontal and dire assault on the First Amendment rights of all Americans.
It is stunning to see how far some on the right will go to oppose even the smallest obstacle that has even a minuscule chance of getting in the way of their big-money influence-buying machine. They define free speech to mean manufactured speech facilitated by mercenaries operating in the shadows paid by hidden donors. Any attempt to shine light on their activities is decried as a constitutional crisis.
The Republican right in Utah would be proud. They have long held the line against any and all lobbying reform in our state. Repeated attempts to lower the gift disclosure level (meals excepted) have been rejected by the Republican state legislature in recent years. The best summary of Utah lobbying reform was published by the Deseret Morning News last year (http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,635185011,00.html).