We Don’t Need No Stinking Registration

WE DON’T NEED NO STINKING REGISTRATION….Is Harry Reid pushing a provision in the Senate ethics bill that would require bloggers to register with the government? This is a story that’s been making the rounds on conservative blogs, but fellow conservative Stephen Bainbridge says it’s bunk:

The vast bulk of the section is definitional. When you parse out the operative language [it says that] someone who engages in grassroots lobbying is not required to register or file reports under section 220. Someone who engages in paid grassroots lobbying is not required to register or file reports under section 220. Only someone who is retained by a client and either earns or spends $25,000 or more per quarter is covered.

There have been times when bloggers were hired by either political or issue campaigns to blog on their behalf. Such a blogger might be covered by this statute if they make more than $25,000 per quarter for doing so. But how many bloggers does that include?

Answer: virtually none. And if you do fall into this category, I’m not sure why the particular technical method you use (i.e., blogging) should exempt you from the rules everyone else has to follow anyway. This may or may not be a good provision (I’m agnostic because I don’t know enough about it), but it doesn’t look like the blogosphere has anything in particular to fear from it.

UPDATE: It turns out that an amendment by Bob Bennett (R-Utah) to strip the grassroots provision from the ethics bill was approved on Thursday, so this is a moot point. The grassroots provision was not in the final version of the ethics bill that was passed on Friday.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation