According to the Seattle Times, “State regulators are wondering whether online political activism amounts to lobbying, which could force Web-based activists to file public reports detailing their finances.” (Can Blogging Be Lobbying?) If it’s determined that blogging can, indeed, be classified as lobbying, bloggers would be required to make public financial disclosures naming their backers. As if most bloggers have financial backers.
Does my husband count? Do I have to make a disclosure?
Doesn’t that just figure? Just as Republicans are realizing that the internet is their best bet to by-pass the mainstream media and reach out directly to voters, some government bureaucrats decide that maybe it’s time for a dose of regulation. I know it’s serious because I actually agree with David Goldstein of horsesass.org, who says they’ll have to take him to court before he’ll register as a lobbyist. Not that it’s likely that anyone would take me to court as I’m sure someone would actually have to read this blog first.
While it appears fairly clear that a blog that simply reports facts or states opinions would be exempt, any call to action, such as encouraging people to write letters or raising money to support a political cause, might not be.
I think I can understand why raising money might be problematic, but writing letters? I must be a little confused about what lobbyists do. I was under the impression that lobbyists tried to influence the outcome of legislation by doing something involving two martini lunches and elected officials, rather than chatting up private citizens. I’m having a hard time seeing how blogging about writing letters to your Congressman about XYZ legislation is any different than talking to your neighbors about XYZ legislation and asking them to write.
Maybe that’s because the only difference is in the potential number of people you can contact and I fail to see why that is an issue. I’ve only just got started with this blog and already I feel like my First Amendment rights are being trampled upon.