Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Beginning of the end of Freedom to Speech

Picture a kid on a sled reaching the tipping point of a tall snow hill, and this is the end of America as we've known it, heading slowly, than faster, downhill. It was nice knowing you, Americans.

Congress Wants to Blame the Grassroots for Its Own Corruption
MANASSAS, Va., Jan. 16 /

-- The following is a
statement by Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of GrassrootsFreedom.com,
regarding legislation currently being considered by Congress to regulate
grassroots communications:

"In what sounds like a comedy sketch from Jon Stewart's Daily Show, but
isn't, the U. S. Senate would impose criminal penalties, even jail time, on
grassroots causes and citizens who criticize Congress.

"Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill currently before the
Senate, would require grassroots causes, even bloggers, who communicate to
500 or more members of the public on policy matters, to register and report
quarterly to Congress the same as the big K Street lobbyists. Section 220
would amend existing lobbying reporting law by creating the most expansive
intrusion on First Amendment rights ever. For the first time in history,
critics of Congress will need to register and report with Congress itself.

"The bill would require reporting of 'paid efforts to stimulate
grassroots lobbying,' but defines 'paid' merely as communications to 500 or
more members of the public, with no other qualifiers.

"On January 9, the Senate passed Amendment 7 to S. 1, to create
criminal penalties, including up to one year in jail, if someone 'knowingly
and willingly fails to file or report.'

"That amendment was introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA). Senator
Vitter, however, is now a co-sponsor of Amendment 20 by Senator Robert
Bennett (R-UT) to remove Section 220 from the bill. Unless Amendment 20
succeeds, the Senate will have criminalized the exercise of First Amendment
rights. We'd be living under totalitarianism, not democracy.

"I started GrassrootsFreedom.com to fight efforts to silence the
grassroots. The website provides updates in the legislation and has a
petition to sign opposing Section 220.

"Thousands of nonprofit leaders, bloggers, and other citizens have
hammered the Senate with calls in opposition to Section 220, which seeks to
silence the grassroots. The criminal provisions will scare citizens into

"The legislation regulates small, legitimate nonprofits, bloggers, and
individuals, but creates loopholes for corporations, unions, and large
membership organizations that would be able to spend literally hundreds of
millions of dollars, yet not report.

"Congress is trying to blame the grassroots, which are American
citizens engaging in their First Amendment rights, for Washington's
internal corruption problems."