Friday, October 22, 2004

The Wages of Campaign Finance "Reform"

Remember how conservatives used to object to McCain-Feingold on the grounds that it would be an unconstitutional abridgement of First Amendment-protected political speech? Remember how liberals pooh-poohed that objection, and claimed that all it would do is "get money out of politics," which is akin to getting alcohol out of Ted Kennedy's bloodstream?

Well, take a look at this.

"A Democrat filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over editorials published in the state's largest newspaper supporting Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski's campaign.

"Jean Paal, 77, alleges that businessman Bill Allen is making illegal contributions to the Murkowski campaign by publishing pro-Murkowski editorials in the Voice of the Times, an opinion page that appears each day in the Daily News. The newspaper has a weekday circulation of more than 71,700.

"'Since Mr. Allen is a donor to the Murkowski campaign, there certainly would be some question that what he pays to the News for this space would be paid advertising,' Paal said Tuesday."

"'This is all nonsense,' said Jack Miller, a lawyer for The Anchorage Times Publishing Co. who is representing Allen. [Probably not the eight-letter word he wanted to use, I'd bet...] 'The Alaska Democratic Party filed the same complaint a few years ago, and it was dismissed,' he said.

"'Paal is violating FEC statutes by even talking about the matter,' Miller said. 'Complaints are to be kept confidential until the commission has had a chance to determine whether they have merit. Going public on an old issue so close to the Nov. 2 general election speaks for itself."

"'I think it is absolutely politically motivated,' he said.

"Miller said a response to the complaint would be filed by the deadline Tuesday. It says that the Voice of the Times is a press entity that under FEC statutes is exempt from laws governing corporate contributions. 'In this case, I am extremely confident the general counsel office will conclude the Times is a press entity and dismiss the complaint,' Miller said. 'It is still a newspaper and still falls within the First Amendment protection for the free press.'"

Yes, maybe. But for how much longer? Can anybody imagine an open attempt to censor a newspaper op-ed page at any time before now? Can anybody imagine the firestorm that would erupt if a Republican tried to do this to an even semi-prominent Big Media daily?

We already know that the Kerryians are ready, willing, and eager censors and repressors of dissenting views, and that Kerry himself is beyond vindictive. Just ask the Swiftboat Vets and Sinclair Broadcasting. Let tinpots like them at the levers of power, and intolerants like Jean Paal will no longer be extremist cranks, but the vanguard of the "public's right to know only what libs want them to."

Or else.