FEC regulations currently prevent bloggers from being persecuted by the FEC for making in-kind contributions if they support candidates or link to their websites. When Congress returns next week, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) will propose a bill to solidify those protections in statute. He writes his colleagues:
[T]hese blogger protections are just regulatory—they are not in statute. As you know, regulations can be changed without congressional action, and there’s no telling what a future FEC might decide to do. Furthermore, the FEC is currently defunct because of vacancies and a lack of quorum. Therefore, we shouldn’t put the freedom of bloggers in the regulatory hands of the FEC. Congress should protect them in law.
That’s why I’m introducing the Blogger Protection Act of 2008—to put the FEC’s regulatory protections of the freedom of bloggers into law. This bill would not exempt monetary contributions to candidates from current campaign finance limitations merely because the contributions are made online. Rather, the bill would codify existing regulations protecting such things as linking in blogs to campaign websites and editorializing about candidates from being regarded as contributions to those candidates.
Of course, that this should even be a question demonstrates just how outrageous and ill-conceived our campaign finance laws are — including and perhaps especially McCain-Feingold.