Thursday, September 22, 2005

Day in DC

Anyway, I was testifying to the Committee on House Administration, headed by Bob Ney, on regulating internet speech. Was a fairly last minute thing and I didn't have much of a chance to prepare a decent opening statement, but hopefully the basic points were there. Current and former FEC commissioners (saw the former panel, not the latteR) were testifying, along with Red State's Mike Krempasky and me. They put some space between us so we didn't kill each other.

Basically where we are is that the FEC is at the tail-end of a rulemaking process, which I testified for previously, regarding regulating political speech on the internet which they were forced to do by a judge. It's unclear, however, why they have yet to actually issue their ruling. It's possible they're dragging their feet either because they want and/or expect congress to intervene in some fashion nullifying anything they do, or because they're waiting for a ruling on the standing of those who filed the lawsuit which led to them being forced to do something (they didn't appeal the ruling itself, but if it's determined that there's a issue with the standing the ruling could be chucked out anyway).

The committee was exploring the issue generally, and in particular a Reid proposal in the Senate to essentially make the court case moot by changing the law. Not many members were present, and those who were clearly sided with a very hands off approach, however that's achieved.

If Congress gets involved there's always the possibility that they'll stick a bunch of other campaign finance related stuff in with it and I have no desire to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Judging from the testimony of the FEC commisioners who were there I'm much more optimistic than I was back during the summer when I testified. They seem to "get it" much more than they did before, and even a worst case scenario from the FEC would probably be nothing to get upset about. The only real concern I currently have is with unintended consequences - certainly it seems the FEC has the right idea, but the question is whether they understand the technology/issues well enough that they can craft rules which won't open the door to a bunch of problematic stuff.

Overall, I'm not too worried about this issue at the moment. One way or another I predict a decent outcome for the whole process.