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Judge Decides That Political Speech Is A Campaign Contribution

This is down right scary.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Talk-radio hosts regularly discuss candidates and ballot issues, often with a particular point of view in favor of one or opposed to another.

Do those comments constitute a financial contribution to a campaign?

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham thinks they do. In a ruling issued Friday, Wickham said the comments and activities by KVI-AM (570) hosts Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson on behalf of the Initiative 912 campaign are in-kind contributions that must be reported to the Public Disclosure Commission.

Initiative 912 is an effort to repeal the legislatively enacted increase in the state gasoline tax. The deadline for submitting at least 225,000 signatures to qualify the initiative for the November ballot is tomorrow.

The ruling was sought by the San Juan County prosecutor and city attorneys for Seattle, Auburn and Kent as part of a larger case involving contributions to the Initiative 912 campaign. Their argument is that the KVI hosts went beyond merely talking about the issue.

This is the same kind of regulation of political speech the FEC was (or perhaps still is) considering for application to blogging.

The problem with tying supportive speech of a political candidate or campaign to contributions to that campaign is that our government limits the amount of contributions any individual or company can make in a single election cycle. If some of the bureaucrats at the FEC get their way (or the judge's ruling in the above story stands) a some sort of monetary value will be assigned to each blog post or radio segment and that value will be applied to the author's political contributions. Once the author reaches the max he or she can contribute they'll have to remain silent.

Now I ask you: How in the world is that sort of thing acceptable in a nation that prides itself on allowing free political speech? Since when did it become the province of our government, be it municipal, state or federal, to regulate the free expression of political thought by private citizens?

Rob Port is the owner and operator of Say Anything.


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Comments (15)

This is why, pre-Watergate,... (Below threshold)

This is why, pre-Watergate, the Courts consistently held campaign finance regulation to be unconstitutional, and why, post-Watergate, the opponents of campaign finance reform (really, control) kept saying that you cannot regulate money without regulating speech - they are identical in that one can be converted to the other.

So now here we are, and the Supreme Court has found that it is perfectly constitutional for the government to ban political speech, and this ruling is just following, as it must, the Supreme Court's guidance. Did anyone expect differently?

More importantly, how long until we decide to act?

If this is the case, why ar... (Below threshold)
meep:

If this is the case, why aren't NY Times editorials campaign contributions?

All judges would have to do is find out what their ad rates are... but of course, those differ by section of the paper. I would think the Op-ed page some of the most valuable real estate in the newspaper, especially when it comes to political campaigns... ooooh, naughty newspapers. I see you've given hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of campaign contributions.

And from a corporation, no less! We can't be having that...

What was that about freedom of the press? Never heard of it.

Snicker. So -- how much wa... (Below threshold)

Snicker. So -- how much was Dan Rather's Big Lie worth to the Kerry campaign? Maybe a couple of $Million?

The supreme court openings are our chance to put this right. I hope Bush does right by us. We used to live in a free country...we might yet again.

So what if you decide to ho... (Below threshold)
Mike:

So what if you decide to hold a rally against some future initiative, would that be given some sort of monetary value? Would protests be given a value as well? So would protesters be fined after going over their set allotment of monetary contributions? Would a radio host's time be worth more of a contribution than someone shouting on the street corner?

The ways you can apply this idiotic ruling are limitless and in every way are a violation of the 1st Amendment. How can a judge not see this?

Would this mean that when M... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

Would this mean that when Michael Moore refers to terrorists as "minutemen" that he's illegally donating to terrorist groups? There's no question IMO he's giving aid and comfort to the enemy, but couldn't this also be construed as as direct financial support? I'm not sure if it's true anymore, but at one time I know he had a huge email list and a lot of visitors to his site. The larger the moonbat audience he's reaching the more he's able to spread his pro-terrorist garbage and the more value he's conveying directly to our enemy. Unless this decision only applies to pro-American or, in the case of democrats, semi-pro-American sites he's making political contributions in kind to al Qaeda.

Embarassing that this is ha... (Below threshold)
Peter:

Embarassing that this is happening in my home town. It's also no surprise considering the amount of Apoplectic Lefties we have here in Seattle.

Yes, Carlson and Wilbur "went beyond talking about the issue"; they rallied the troops by getting people here in WA to sign petitions to help repeal this disasterous gas tax. at nonewgastax.com—a tax that was summarily shoved down our collective throats by that election thief Chris (not Christine) Gregorie. A tax she promised she wouldn't pass.

Trust me, Wilbur and Carlson are HOT about this and talk it about nearly constantly, especially with yesterday's ridiculous ruling.

What I don't understand is.... (Below threshold)

What I don't understand is... Is it possible that every citizen in that city is so brazenly anti-Bush and anti-War On Terrorism and so focused (like a laser beam on them) that they cannot un-hook from these things to understand what damaging potential this kind of ruling has on us all???

Do they not see? or are they plainly and painfully aware?

It is beyond me. I am on th... (Below threshold)

It is beyond me. I am on the verge of just giving up. It seems that every where you turn a little more of our liberties are being squandered.

The funny thing is that it is happening just the opposite of how the Liberals claim it is happening. They claim that Conservatives are trying to turn back the clock, taking us back into the dark ages. Also that the Patriot Act is the most dangerous threat to our liberties.

But in fact it comes from bi-partisan "campaign finance reform". Dammit Mr. President, why the hell did you sign that thing into law? Ultimately you and the Congress are to blame for these new infringements on free speech.

You will be hauling me off to jail before I stop speaking what I believe. That is what our founding fathers fought and died for isn't it?

I'll write this again: lib... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I'll write this again: liberalism run to it's extreme conclusion results in fascism. It's happened in human political/social history in the past and it'll happen again if/when liberalism remains unchallenged and is allowed to run it's frightful course. It's the didactic demand of the intense and intensely liberal opinion that results in the silencing of others. Just look at this 'ruling'.

We should all comply with t... (Below threshold)
Ken:

We should all comply with that judge's order.
It is free speech, so the contribution is reported as $0.00

Is a pre-frontal lobotomy a... (Below threshold)
mojo:

Is a pre-frontal lobotomy a prerequisite for sitting on the Washington Sup. bench?

RE: WunderKraut post (July ... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: WunderKraut post (July 7, 2005 03:38 PM)

You will be hauling me off to jail before I stop speaking what I believe.

You and me both, Sir Kraut, you and me both!

I remember listening to Jud... (Below threshold)
JohnG:

I remember listening to Judge Robert Bork during an interview shortly after the debacle surrounding his nomination to the USSC state that ONLY political speech is absolutely entitled to the protections of the 1st Amendment; all other speech can have reasonable restrictions placed on it.

Now, it appears we've come full circle. A pornographer, formerly someone who only came out at night, has absolutely free speech, but a political commentator can be taxed, expensed, regulated, modified and restricted. Reminds me of the old moniker used with punch cards : "Do not twist, fold, spindle or mutilate."

How we could use some of that cautionary advice now.

Have no fear. To every acti... (Below threshold)

Have no fear. To every action is an equal and OPPOSITE reaction.Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham is an emotional tyrant about to be quashed. Enjoy his coming ignominy; he will not. What an idiot, arrogant LAWYER!!!!!

So... How long before vo... (Below threshold)
Yogimus:

So... How long before voting becomes a "campaign contribution"?




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