In two determinations handed down yesterday, the US Federal Election Commission (FEC) found that political blogs and bloggers are media for the purposes of US Electoral Law.
The first case was a complaint against the well known left wing blog The Daily Kos. Conservative blogger John C.A. Bambenek claimed that the site should comply with campaign finance laws because it charges a fee to place advertising on its website and it provides “a gift of free advertising and candidate media services” by posting blog entries that support candidates. The FEC determined that the website falls “squarely” within the media exemption and is therefore not subject to federal regulation under the Act; ipso facto: under US law blogs are formally recognized as media organizations.
In the second case, the FEC rejected allegations that Michael L. Grace made unreported expenditures when he leased space on a computer server to create a blog which advocated the defeat of Representative Mary Bono in the November 2006 election. The Commission found that the respondent did not fraudulently misrepresent himself in violation of 2U.S.C. § 441h and that the Act exempts from regulation volunteer activity by individuals.
In the FEC’s Internet regulations, the Commission clarified that an individual’s use, without compensation, of equipment and personal services for blogging, creating, or hosting a website for the purpose of influencing a Federal election are not expenditures subject to the restrictions of campaign finance law.
Essentially it reaffirmed the right of American bloggers to exercise their free speech rights without being subject to US electoral law, in the same way that media organizations are able to.