Does it violate campaign finance laws to fly a blimp with somebodyâ€™s name on it, and a suggestion to Google that name?
Bradley Smith is a former member of the Federal Election Commission who thinks campaign finance regulations violate free speech. He wants to see how far the ever-longer tentacles of these regulations really reach. So he created a for-profit company called Liberty Political Advertising to solicit funds for a Ron Paul blimp.
The idea is that since LPA is for-profit, not a PAC, â€œcustomersâ€ can give as much money as they like. Smith says if Michael Mooreâ€™s production of â€œFahrenheit 911,â€ obviously intended to influence the 2004 election, is protected speech, his for-profit project should be too. The FEC may not agree. It may also take years to decide.
Could go either way. But suppose contributing â€œtoo muchâ€ money to this balloon gets declared a violation. Then, likewise, any political speech paid for with â€œtoo muchâ€ money might violate it. Newspapers, magazines, broadcasts the Web. Wouldnâ€™t a background story about Ron Paul on any network newscast involve a lot more cash spent by one organization than Mr. Smithâ€™s blimp?
What then? Repeal the First Amendment outright?
Nah. Far better to just junk the regs. Treat the Constitution as if it means that we really do have freedom of speech.
This is Common Sense. Iâ€™m Paul Jacob.