Webloggers Overreact to Senate Lobbying Bill
On almost-partisan lines the Senate passed an amendment that deleted a section of the Lobbying Reform Bill dealing with grassroots lobbying. There was a tempest in the blogosphere over the possibility it would require certain webloggers to register as lobbyists.
There’s something quite pernicious about a Congress (no matter what party) that attempts to limit the public’s right to lobby and petition instead of limiting its own powers. The vast scope of Congress is the cause for lobbying, both K Street-style and grassroots. Firms and consultants geared toward organizing the grassroots is a symptom of Leviathan.
Even if the grassroots lobbying section became law it would have affected few webloggers. I doubt even Glenn Reynolds is pulling in $25,000 a quarter, and most of that is coming from blogads instead of a client. So Stephen Bainbridge is correct when writing,
Section 220 probably was a bad idea and the effort to remove it from the bill is probably a good idea, but treating Section 220 as a “measure to silence any critics of the government, like us and other bloggers,” undermines the blogosphere’s credibility when it comes to real efforts to do so.
It’s just crying wolf.
However, Jeff Goldstein is also correct,
Still, it’s a free speech concern. People should be able to promote whomever they wish for whatever reasons they wish. This still strikes me as a way to legislate against the presumed stupidity of the American electorate.
Of course, I could be wrong—and probably am. Otherwise I’d be making $25K or more a quarter, right?