At least I'm not a lawyer

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on January 18, 2007

In the jobs version of the great chain of being, doctors, soldiers, teachers and police officers always rank near the top. At the other end of the spectrum are journalists, politicians, used car salesmen and lobbyists.

So, being a journalist is bad enough, now the stinkin' politicians want to make me a lobbyist too?

"Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill currently before the Senate, would require grassroots causes, even bloggers, who communicate to 500 or more members of the public on policy matters, to register and report quarterly to Congress the same as the big K Street lobbyists. Section 220 would amend existing lobbying reporting law by creating the most expansive intrusion on First Amendment rights ever. For the first time in history, critics of Congress will need to register and report with Congress itself," according to a statement from

The normally apoplectic about civil rights infringements by the Bush administration is a little more ho-hum when it's liberals attempting to inhibit speech.

What the bill would really do is require those who are paid to lobby to register as lobbyists and disclose what they are up to. And they have to be paid more than $25,000 before they even have to do that. That the right-wing bloggers are so worried about this does say something, doesn't it?

What does this $25,000 include? Does it include advertising revenue from the Google Adwords? Does it include referral fees for people buying products at through this Web site?

I'm certainly not making that kind of money on this site, but what if Bill Bennett chose to invest the money he's not spending on video poker nowadays on supporting promising bloggers? Then I'd have to register? What about the increasing number of blogs run by newspapers? Will opinion columnists like George Will have to register if they urge their more than 500 readers to call some politician on Capitol Hill?

This sort of attack on the sort of speech the First Amendment is supposed to be protecting most is typical of our elected representatives rulers on Capitol Hill. This is also reason #1 why I won't be voting for Sen. John "Incumbent Protection Bill" McCain -- ever.

On a related note, I heard New York Rep. Maurice Hinchey -- last seen on this site wearing a dress -- on Laura Ingraham's show last night trying to promote the return of the fairness doctrine. [For a devastating critique of that plan, please read Jeff Goldstein's piece here.] Hinchey actually had the gall to say that the return of the fairness doctrine was necessary to protect Ingraham's rights to have a show on talk radio!

*UPDATE* The provision has been stripped out of the bill. Surprisingly, all the Republicans voted to remove the language, along with a handful of Democrats.

Another minor victory for free speech.


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January 2007



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