Democrats on the nation’s top campaign finance regulator may be opening the door once again to regulating political content on the Internet, Republicans warn – despite claims to the contrary a year ago.
Federal Election Commissioner Lee Goodman told FoxNews.com that two recent decisions in particular have exposed “a deep-seated desire to regulate all forms of political speech on the Internet.”
The most recent case was considered by the FEC in June, though details were only released this month.
The case involved the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America (FSPA) – a conservative nonprofit that ran ads on YouTube criticizing Sen. Rand Paul’s, R-Ky., position on the Iran nuclear deal. A complaint claimed the group violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 by not filing reports disclosing its spending on videos posted primarily to YouTube.
The FEC Office of the General Counsel concluded the case should be dismissed, as the ads didn’t contain express advocacy (such as “vote for candidate X”). The counsel also noted the YouTube videos are exempt from disclosure under a pivotal 2006 FEC rule known as the Internet exemption, which says “an uncompensated individual or group … may engage in Internet activities for the purpose of influencing a federal election without restriction.”
All FEC commissioners agreed the case should be dismissed based on the express advocacy point. But, in a significant disagreement, the commission split 3-3 along partisan lines on the question of whether YouTube videos indeed are exempt under the 2006 Internet rule.