Friday, January 19, 2007

Victory! Grassroots Prevails on Free Speech Issue

The grassroots has won on free speech.

The U.S. Senate adopted S. 1, the ethics bill, WITHOUT the provision that would have required grassroots organizations to register with the government if they urge others to contact their federal elected representatives on public policy issues, or face stiff fines.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Grassroots Lobbying Bill Update

S.A. Miller at the Washington Times has the latest on Senate action on the grassroots lobbying bill.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Constitutionality of Limiting Grassroots Lobbying

The Free Speech Coalition has posted a review (pdf) of the constitutionality of the anti-grassroots lobbying proposal (Section 220) Congress is considering as part of U.S. Senate Bill 1, the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007.

The Free Speech Coalition urges support for an amendment proposed by Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) to strike Section 220 from the legislation entirely. We concur.

Monday, January 15, 2007

More on Efforts to Quash Grassroots Lobbying

LeavWorld has more on efforts by the new Congressional leadership to limit "grassroots lobbying":
It doesn't matter if your issue is Gay Rights or Global Warming, CONGRESS WANTS TO SHUT US OUT OF THE PROCESS. How? By making the reporting requirements for Grassroots Lobbying Groups so onerous that many will go out of business. Similar restraints are not being placed on the high-priced DC lobbying firms - JUST THE ONES THAT GET THE INFORMATION TO US AND ENCOURAGE US TO PARTICIPATE.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Mark Tapscott: Protecting Free Speech

A column by Mark Tapscott in the Washington Examiner is a good guide to behind-the-scenes efforts to hush the input ordinary citizens and grassroots organizations have on Congress:
...Nancy Pelosi has cooked up with Public Citizen’s Joan Claybrook a “lobbying reform” that actually protects rich special interests and activist millionaires while clamping new shackles on citizens’ First Amendment rights to petition Congress and speak their minds.

...The proposal [Joan Claybrook of Public Citizen] is helping craft for introduction early in 2007 is expected to be essentially the same bill Pelosi put forth [in 2006].

That is bad news for the First Amendment and for preserving the kind of healthy, open debate that is essential to holding politicians, bureaucrats and special interests to account for their conduct of the public business.

The key provision of the 2006 bill was its redefinition of grassroots lobbying to include small citizens groups whose messages about Congress and public policy issues are directed toward the general public, according to attorneys for the Free Speech Coalition.

All informational and educational materials produced by such groups would have to be registered and reported on a quarterly basis. Failure to report would result in severe civil penalties (likely followed soon by criminal penalties as well).

In addition, the 2006 bill created a new statutory category of First Amendment activity to be regulated by Congress. Known as “grassroots lobbying firms,” these groups would be required to register with Congress and be subject to penalties whenever they are paid $50,000 or more to communicate with the general public during any three-month period.

In other words, for the first time in American history, potentially millions of concerned citizens involved in grassroots lobbying and representing viewpoints from across the entire political spectrum would have to register with Congress in order to exercise their First Amendment rights.

...the Pelosi-Claybrook proposal includes loopholes big enough to protect Big Labor, Big Corporations and Big Nonprofits, as well as guys with Big Wallets like George Soros...
We've posted only a brief excerpt. Please rad it all here.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Preserving Liberty, One Letter at a Time

APL is one of 47 national organizations signing a December 14 letter (pdf) to Public Citizen's Joan Claybrook asking her organization to cease efforts that would trample the free speech rights of ordinary citizens who seek to communicate their views to Congress.

We urge as many Americans as possible to read the letter (pdf), which explains the issue in some detail.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The Preserving Liberty Blog Debuts

This blog will chronicle the activities of Americans for the Preservation of Liberty.