The Grassroots Lobbying Fraud - Shutting America Up
By Brad Smith Posted in FEC | Spotlight Blogs — Comments (8) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Included as part of the lobbying reform bill incoming Speaker Pelosi has promised to deliver within 100 hours is a provision which is simply not getting enough attention.
The lobbying bill seeks to, among other things, require groups to account for and disclose their efforts at grassroots "lobbying." This is a very dangerous development and should be opposed with all the white heat one could muster to attack McCain-Feingold a few years back.
Grassroots "lobbying" isn't "lobbying" at all, in the conventional sense. There is no "lobbyist" waiting to buttonhole members. Rather, grassroots lobbying means efforts by citizens, citizen organizations, and other groups to contact other citizens, and urge those citizens to contact their senators and representatives on an issue.
Read on . . .
There can be no corruption here - the ultimate result is citizen to officeholder contact. If that pressures office holders, it is the result of citizen concerns. If those citizen concerns are shaped by a "grassroots lobbying" campaign, that is exactly what the First Amendment is all about - the right to speak to fellow citizens.
Why do officeholders want to know who is funding opinion shaping efforts in their districts? Simple - they want to know who to pressure, who to retaliate against. There are a limited number of consultants, pollsters, and ad firms with the capability to run a full scale campaign, and they are acutely subject to political pressure. Many citizens have legitimate reasons for not wanting their support made known - think of it as why we have a secret ballot at voting time.
Moreover, you can bet your bottom that "disclosure" will not be the end of this. Disclosure is almost always the entry drug to outright prohibition. After all, it is disclosure that demonstrates the extent of "the problem" (whatever that is - here it is apparently citizens talking to citizens behind the backs of members of congress).
The effort to block this atrocious legislation is being led by the Free Speech Coalition (Not to be confused with the "adult entertainment" trade group of the same name, which is at .com rather than .org.). See also Lobbysense which successfully led the fight last year against the same effort but seems disappointingly quiet about the current threat.