Friday, February 15, 2002
Geez, I thought the Shays-Meehan bill was bad enough just reading CNN's and Foxnews' reports on the issue. Today's Wall Street Journal editorial page reveals more about the bill that makes it even more odious to First Amendment freedoms.
For example, there's the little-understood but dangerous provision limiting "coordination" between candidates and, yes, citizens. You have to be a lawyer to understand the nuances here. But in essence the bill redefines what is illegal "coordination" to include "any general or particular understanding" with a candidate by a group that later campaigns on his behalf.
So let's say you're the AFL-CIO, and you meet to lobby a Member of Congress on a looming trade bill. If the union later ran issue ads for or against that Member at election time, or ran phone banks or sent out voter guides, that Member might well be in violation of the law's new "coordination" ban.
At a minimum, that candidate would almost certainly be subject to legal harassment from his opponent, in the form of petitions for probes from the Federal Election Commission. This threat to free speech and the right to assembly is egregious enough that it is opposed by, among others, the ACLU, the AFL-CIO and the National Right to Life Committee.
It also appears that I was mistaken earlier. According to the WSJ, this bill only affects candidates for Congress.
It's not just stupid. It's really stoopid!