Friday, January 05, 2007

The bogus 100-hour orgy

You may have read that incoming Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has called for a lot of bill-passing activity in the first 100 hours of the new 110th Congress. I have been receiving stirring emails from regarding this 100-hour "orgy", particularly regarding the proposed legislation to limit grassroots lobbying. Jim Babka, the President of DownsizeDC, wrote on Wednesday of the letter he received from former Federal Election Commission chairman, Brad Smith, on this topic:
Here's what former FEC Commissioner Brad Smith (an excellent critic of the campaign finance laws) had to say right after I corresponded with him saying the public needed to hear from him on this issue . . .

The Grassroots Lobbying Fraud - Shutting America Up

by Brad Smith

Included as part of the lobbying reform bill incoming Speaker Pelosi has promised to deliver within 100 hours is a provision which is simply not getting enough attention.

The lobbying bill seeks to, among other things, require groups to account for and disclose their efforts at grassroots "lobbying." This is a very dangerous development and should be opposed with all the white heat one could muster to attack McCain-Feingold a few years back.

Grassroots "lobbying" isn't "lobbying" at all, in the conventional sense. There is no "lobbyist" waiting to buttonhole members. Rather, grassroots lobbying means efforts by citizens, citizen organizations, and other groups to contact other citizens, and urge those citizens to contact their senators and representatives on an issue.

There can be no corruption here - the ultimate result is citizen to officeholder contact. If that pressures office holders, it is the result of citizen concerns. If those citizen concerns are shaped by a "grassroots lobbying" campaign, that is exactly what the First Amendment is all about - the right to speak to fellow citizens.

Why do officeholders want to know who is funding opinion shaping efforts in their districts? Simple - they want to know who to pressure, who to retaliate against. There are a limited number of consultants, pollsters, and ad firms with the capability to run a full scale campaign, and they are acutely subject to political pressure. Many citizens have legitimate reasons for not wanting their support made known - think of it as why we have a secret ballot at voting time.

Moreover, you can bet your bottom that "disclosure" will not be the end of this. Disclosure is almost always the entry drug to outright prohibition. After all, it is disclosure that demonstrates the extent of "the problem" (whatever that is - here it is apparently citizens talking to citizens behind the backs of members of congress).

This is a fight that needs to be joined, and fast.

Brad Smith is right. You can do both the "fighting" part and the "fast" part right now by sending messages to Congress on both of the following campaigns . . .

If you think Congress shouldn't pass nearly 400 pages of dense legislation without reading it, understanding it, or debating it, tell Congress to slow-down Speaker Pelosi's 100-hour legislative orgy by clicking here.

If you don't want Congress to mute its critics by regulating groups like Downsize DC, then tell them no by clicking here.

One last thing before we go. We plan to be very, very aggressive in 2007. We plan to make this our break-out year. So we need to keep increasing our funding. We NEED more monthly credit card pledges. You can support this organization for as little as $3 or month. Everyone who starts a monthly credit card pledge will be listed on the roster for our upcoming "One Subject at a Time" legislation. Please start your monthly credi t card pledge or make a one time donation toward our January budget by CLICKING HERE.

Yes. We're asking you to do three things today. We hope you can. The theme for 2007 is AGGRESSIVE ACTION. Let's be aggressive!

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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