Later today, the House of Representatives will vote on the Online Freedom of Speech Act, which is expected to pass easily. The statute amends the McCain-Feingold Act to make clear Congress’s intent that the internet not be subject to regulation by the FEC. This will reverse the effect of a recent court decision that required the FEC to assert jurisdiction over political speech on the web.
One of the big advocates of the Online Freedom of Speech Act is Minnesota Congressman Mark Kennedy. Earlier this afternoon, I talked to him about the law. Mark said:
The internet is a vibrant medium of communication that has increased the number of people who can make their voices heard in the political debate. The web enables ordinary citizens, not just large newspapers and media companies, to join in the discussion of public issues. America has benefited as a result.
I asked Mark when we can look forward to repeal of McCain-Feingold, the principal consequences of which have been unintended and harmful. Mark agrees that the main impact of McCain-Feingold has been to empower the super-rich, through the section 527 vehicle. All the more reason to protect freedom of speech in the alternative media.
Mark was a proud opponent of McCain-Feingold and continues to be an outspoken defender of free speech. He is also a budget hawk, who has one of the best records in Congress on opposing excessive spending in general, and pork in particular. Next year, he is running for the open Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Mark Dayton. If elected, he will be the only CPA in the Senate. His opponent is still unknown. Mark’s race will be one of the two or three most-watched Senate contests next year. I’m hopeful that, as a supporter of internet freedom of speech and the porkbuster campaign, he will garner bipartisan support on the web.