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BAAAAAA, BAAAAAAA

Filed at 10:27 am under by dcobranchi

I’m so sick of $!%*% sheeple passing along whatever garbage the “shepherds” shove into the internet tubes. This one, although not homeschooling related, has been making the rounds on homeschool lists today:

Stop holding your representatives accountable

That’s what they want you to do.

Lots of things going on lately that we need to be aware of and this one is at the top of the list.

The very first bill scheduled in the Senate this year intends to get you out of their hair. The mostly Democratic side of the aisle of the US Senate has set their focus to limit the free speech of Americans from trying to keep track of and affect the actions of our legislators by limiting and stopping grass roots efforts.

The U.S. Senate is about to vote on legislation aimed at curbing lobbying corruption. Much of the bill is good. But there is a section of the bill which unfairly targets grassroots lobbying organizations and would penalize them for alerting Americans about important issues and attempting to influence government policy. If the bill passes, organizations like Focus on the Family Action, the American Family Association, FRC Action and American Values may be severely hampered from informing you in the future about significant legislation affecting the family and family values.

Instead of addressing the true lobbying problems – high-paid lobbyists buying influence with members of Congress with international trips and fancy dinners – Section 220 will place the bulls-eye squarely on you.

Section 220 will require that organizations such as Focus on the Family Action that alert Americans to important legislation affecting our country be burdened by miles of new red tape. These bureaucratic restrictions are unconscionable, and failure to comply could result in $100,000 fines.

Hear yesterday’s Focus on The Family Broadcast explaining this issue. http://tinyurl.com/yxw3d3

To reach your congressman and senators, call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Dobson is lying out of his ass. Here’s what Section 220 really says [emphasis added]:

SEC. 220. DISCLOSURE OF PAID EFFORTS TO STIMULATE GRASSROOTS LOBBYING.

(a) Definitions.–Section 3 of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1602) is amended–
(1) in paragraph (7), by adding at the end of the
following: nd“Lobbying activities include paid efforts to
stimulate grassroots lobbying, but do not include grassroots
lobbying
.”; a
(2) by adding at the end of the following:
“(17) Grassroots lobbying.–The term `grassroots lobbying’
means the voluntary efforts of members of the general public to
communicate their own views on an issue to Federal officials or
to encourage other members of the general public to do the
same.
“(18) Paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.–
“(A) In general.–The term `paid efforts to
stimulate grassroots lobbying’ means any paid attempt
in support of lobbying contacts on behalf of a client

to influence the general public or segments thereof to
contact one or more covered legislative or executive
branch officials (or Congress as a whole) to urge such
officials (or Congress) to take specific action with
respect to a matter described in section 3(8)(A),
except that such term does not include any
communications by an entity directed to its members,
employees, officers, or shareholders.
“(B) Paid attempt to influence the general public
or segments thereof.–The term `paid attempt to
influence the general public or segments thereof’ does
not include an attempt to influence directed at less
than 500 members of the general public.
“(C) Registrant.–For purposes of this paragraph,
a person or entity is a member of a registrant if the
person or entity–
“(i) pays dues or makes a contribution of
more than a nominal amount to the entity;
“(ii) makes a contribution of more than a
nominal amount of time to the entity;
“(iii) is entitled to participate in the
governance of the entity;
“(iv) is 1 of a limited number of honorary
or life members of the entity; or
“(v) is an employee, officer, director or
member of the entity.
“(19) Grassroots lobbying firm.–The term `grassroots
lobbying firm’ means a person or entity that–
“(A) is retained by 1 or more clients to engage in
paid efforts
to stimulate grassroots lobbying on behalf
of such clients; and
“(B) receives income of, or spends or agrees to
spend, an aggregate of $25,000 or more for such efforts
in any quarterly period.”.
(b) Registration.–Section 4(a) of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1603(a)) is
amended–
(1) in the flush matter at the end of paragraph (3)(A), by
adding at the end the following: “For purposes of clauses (i)
and (ii), the term `lobbying activities’ shall not include paid
efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.”; and
(2) by inserting after paragraph (3) the following:
“(4) Filing by grassroots lobbying firms.–Not later than
45 days after a grassroots lobbying firm first is retained by a
client to engage in paid efforts to stimulate grassroots
lobbying, such grassroots lobbying firm shall register with the
Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of
Representatives.”.
(c) Separate Itemization of Paid Efforts To Stimulate Grassroots
Lobbying.–Section 5(b) of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1604(b)) is amended–
(1) in paragraph (3), by–
(A) inserting after “total amount of all income”
the following: “(including a separate good faith
estimate of the total amount of income relating
specifically to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots
lobbying and, within that amount, a good faith estimate
of the total amount specifically relating to paid
advertising)”; and
(B) inserting “or a grassroots lobbying firm”
after “lobbying firm”;
(2) in paragraph (4), by inserting after “total expenses”
the following: “(including a good faith estimate of the total
amount of expenses relating specifically to paid efforts to
stimulate grassroots lobbying and, within that total amount, a
good faith estimate of the total amount specifically relating
to paid advertising)”; and
(3) by adding at the end the following:
“Subparagraphs (B) and (C) of paragraph (2) shall not apply with
respect to reports relating to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots
lobbying activities.”.
(d) Good Faith Estimates and De Minimis Rules for Paid Efforts To
Stimulate Grassroots Lobbying.–
(1) In general.–Section 5(c) of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1604(c))
is amended to read as follows:
“(c) Estimates of Income or Expenses.–For purposes of this
section, the following shall apply:
“(1) Estimates of income or expenses shall be made as
follows:
“(A) Estimates of amounts in excess of $10,0000
shall be rounded to the nearest $20,000.
“(B) In the event income or expenses do not exceed
$10,000, the registrant shall include a statement that
income or expenses totaled less than $10,000 for the
reporting period.
“(2) Estimates of income or expenses relating specifically
to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying shall be made
as follows:
“(A) Estimates of amounts in excess of $25,000
shall be rounded to the nearest $20,000.
“(B) In the event income or expenses do not exceed
$25,000, the registrant shall include a statement that
income or expenses totaled less than $25,000 for the
reporting period.”.
(2) Tax reporting.–Section 15 of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1610)
is amended–
(A) in subsection (a)–
(i) in paragraph (1), by striking “and”
after the semicolon;
(ii) in paragraph (2), by striking the
period and inserting “; and”; and
(iii) by adding at the end the following:
“(3) in lieu of using the definition of paid efforts to
stimulate grassroots lobbying in section 3(18), consider as
paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying only those
activities that are grassroots expenditures as defined in
section 4911(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.”; and
(B) in subsection (b)–
(i) in paragraph (1), by striking “and”
after the semicolon;
(ii) in paragraph (2), by striking the
period and inserting “; and”; and
(iii) by adding at the end the following:
“(3) in lieu of using the definition of paid efforts to
stimulate grassroots lobbying in section 3(18), consider as
paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying only those
activities that are grassroots expenditures as defined in
section 4911(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.”.

So, who’s paying Dobson and Focus on the Family? And what percentage of the $!%*% sheeple will bother to actually read the bill in question?

16 Responses to “BAAAAAA, BAAAAAAA”


Comment by
COD
January 11th, 2007
at 11:24 am

//And what percentage of the $!%*% sheeple will bother to actually read the bill in question//

If they bother to read the bill, they by definition are not sheeple, right?


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
January 11th, 2007
at 12:10 pm

Good point. I guess that last question is a bit oxymoronic.


Comment by
Darren
January 11th, 2007
at 3:21 pm

Well, at the risk of sounding like one of the sheeple… 🙂

Disclaimer first: I’m not an expert on this. However, I dislike government regulation on free speech, including speech from an organization to its members. This is the way I understand the bill:

2 USC 1602 defines client as “The term “client” means any person or entity that employs or retains another person for financial or other compensation to conduct lobbying activities on behalf of that person or entity. A person or entity whose employees act as lobbyists on its own behalf is both a client and an employer of such employees. In the case of a coalition or association that employs or retains other persons to conduct lobbying activities, the client is the coalition or association and not its individual members.”

Thus, let’s take a big nameless state homeschool organization. It is an entity that employs two people, and one has the responsibility to send emails. She sends an email saying, “There’s a bill coming up in Congress requiring all conservative Christians to move to North Carolina to offset Daryl’s libertarian leanings. Call your Congressman and support it.”

At this point, the email sender has been paid by a client (the state homeschool organization) to stimulate grassroots lobbying. If the email goes to 501 people, the homeschool organization suddenly is considered a lobbyist subject to all federal reporting requirements, even though it has not contacted anyone on Capitol Hill.

If a state homeschool organization is unable to contact its own members in a situation like this, it seems like a pretty chilling effect on free speech.

That’s my $.02, after reading the relevant portions of the bill and talking it over with our lobbyist (we already have to report here, but it’s because we talk to Congressmen, not because we talk to our members).


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
January 11th, 2007
at 5:29 pm

A person or entity whose employees act as lobbyists on its own behalf is both a client and an employer of such employees.

You can’t be one of the sheeple; you’re one of the shepherds. 🙂

I don’t buy the argument that because an organization pays their employees, they cannot send out emails encouraging grassroots efforts. I think this is the key sentence:

“In general.–The term `paid efforts to
stimulate grassroots lobbying’ means any paid attempt
in support of lobbying contacts on behalf of a client
to influence the general public…”

Contacts on behalf of a client sure doesn’t sound like your 2-employee Stop Daryl statewide.

I don’t like placing restrictions on speech, either. This bill doesn’t. It merely forces the disclosure of who’s paying the bills. How is MORE information bad?


Comment by
Nance Confer
January 11th, 2007
at 8:52 pm

. . .subject to all federal reporting requirements, . . .

And what would those be?

Nance


Comment by
Nance Confer
January 12th, 2007
at 8:46 am

Thus, let’s take a big nameless state homeschool organization. It is an entity that employs two people, and one has the responsibility to send emails.
**********
One other question: Are there state hs orgs, employing two people or a few people, who actually have income of $25,000 a quarter?

Nance


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
January 12th, 2007
at 8:51 am

It’s even more absurd than that, Nance. They’d have to ““receive income of, or spend or agree to spend, an aggregate of $25,000 or more for such efforts in any quarterly period.’’ And, if I’m reading this correctly, that would be $25,000 per quarter per issue.

As I just wrote on HS-Watch– this whole thing is an effort by Dobson et al. to rally the troops after the crushing defeat in November.


Comment by
COD
January 12th, 2007
at 2:01 pm

HSLDA sent out an e-lert on this today.


Comment by
Anonymous
January 13th, 2007
at 2:30 pm

“Paid” is defined as simply communications to 500+ people.

You need to look at the law the bill amends. A blogger can be a “client.”

The sheeple seem to have better lawyers who know this stuff

Read this:
grassr...yID=23


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
January 13th, 2007
at 3:06 pm

Did you miss the part where you have to receive $25,000 per quarter from the client?


Comment by
Nance Confer
January 13th, 2007
at 6:37 pm

“The grassroots disclosure provision is aimed at making large-scale efforts to engage the public on federal legislation more transparent. It would require groups already registered under LDA because of their direct lobbying expenses and firms that spend over $25,000 in a quarter conducting such campaigns on behalf of clients to disclose grassroots lobbying costs.

“This proposal has come under fire from some conservative free speech and direct mail operations, but their analysis misinterprets the bill. For more information, see OMB Watch’s analysis of the proposal.”

This is from: ombwat.../1/474

And they offer this analysis: ombwat...is.pdf

Which explains how the objections heard from conservative quarters so far are “flat out wrong.”

Nance


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
January 13th, 2007
at 7:18 pm

OMG– a non-hysterical analysis! Good thing they don’t have any ellipses.


Comment by
Anonymous
January 18th, 2007
at 5:07 pm

THE ACLU IS AGAINST SECTION 220 OF SENATE BILL 1
The following letter, from the ACLU, was read in the Senate yesterday, urging Senators ”to support Bennett Amendment S.A. 20 to S. 1, the ‘Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007’ … This amendment would strike Section 220 of the underlying bill”:

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION,

Washington, DC, January 17, 2007.

DEAR SENATOR: On behalf of the ACLU, a non-partisan organization with hundreds of thousands of activists and members, and 53 affiliates nation-wide, we urge you to support Bennett Amendment S.A. 20 to S. 1, the “Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007” when it comes to the floor for a vote. This amendment would strike Section 220 of the underlying bill.

Section 220, entitled “Disclosure of Paid Efforts to Stimulate Grassroots Lobbying” imposes onerous reporting requirements that will chill constitutionally protected activity. Advocacy organizations large and small would now find their communications to the general public about policy matters redefined as lobbying and therefore subject to registration and quarterly reporting. Failure to register and report could have severe civil and potentially criminal sanctions. Section 220 would apply to even small, state grassroots organizations with no lobbying presence in Washington. When faced with burdensome registration and reporting requirements, some of these organizations may well decide that silence is the best option.

The right to petition the government is “one of the most precious of the liberties safeguarded by the Bill of Rights.” When viewed through this prism, the thrust of the grassroots lobbying regulation is at best misguided, and at worst would seriously undermine the basic freedom that is the cornerstone of our system of government.

It is well settled that lobbying, which embodies the separate and distinct political freedoms of petitioning, speech, and assembly, enjoys the highest constitutional protection. Petitioning the government is “core political speech,” for which First Amendment protection is “at its zenith.”

Constitutional protection of lobbying is not in the least diminished by the fact that it may be performed for others for a fee. Further, “the First Amendment protects [the] right not only to advocate [one’s] cause but also to select what [one] believe[s] to be the most effective means of doing so.” In Meyer, the Court emphasized that legislative restrictions on political advocacy or advocacy of the passage or defeat of legislation are “wholly at odds with the guarantees of the First Amendment.”

Where the government seeks to regulate such First Amendment protected activity, the regulations must survive exacting scrutiny. To satisfy strict scrutiny, the government must establish: (a) a compelling governmental interest sufficient to override the burden on individual rights; (b) a substantial correlation between the regulation and the furtherance of that interest; and (c) that the least drastic means to achieve its goal have been employed.

A compelling governmental interest cannot be established on the basis of conjecture. There must be a factual record to sustain the government’s assertion that burdens on fundamental rights are warranted. Here, there is little if any record to support the contention that grassroots lobbying needs to be regulated. Without this record, the government will be unable to sustain its assertion that grassroots lobbying should be regulated.

The grassroots lobbying provision is troubling for other reasons as well. First, the provision seems to assume Americans can be easily manipulated by advocacy organizations to take actions that do not reflect their own interests. To the contrary, Americans are highly independent and capable of making their own judgment. Whether or not they were informed of an issue through a grassroots campaign is irrelevant–their action in contacting their representative is based on their own belief in the importance of matters before Congress.

Second, it appears groups such as the ACLU may end up having to report their activities because of the grassroots lobbying provisions. A “grassroots lobbying firm” means a person or entity that is retained by one or more clients to engage in paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying on behalf of such clients and receives income of, or spends or agrees to spend, an aggregate of $25,000 or more for such efforts in any quarterly period. “Client” under existing law includes the organization that employs an in-house staff person or person who lobbies. If, for example, the ACLU hires an individual to stimulate grassroots lobbying on behalf of the ACLU and pays that individual for her efforts in amounts exceeding $25,000, it appears that individual could be considered a grassroots lobbying firm, and have to register and report as such. The fact the ACLU employs that individual appears to be irrelevant to this provision. Unless this is the type of activity that the provision is intended to reach, there is no substantial correlation between the regulation and the furtherance of the government’s alleged interest in regulating that activity.

Groups such as the ACLU could also be affected because of the definitions of “paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying” employed in Section 220. For example, the ACLU maintains a list of activists who have signed up to be notified about pending issues in Congress. Not all of those activists are “dues paying” members who would be exempt from consideration for “paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.” Additionally, since there are 500 or more such individuals, sending out an action alert to ACLU activists could be deemed “paid” communication and subject to registration and quarterly reporting.

Because the grassroots lobbying provision is unsupported by any record of corruption, and because the provision is not narrowly tailored to achieve the government’s asserted interest, the provision is constitutionally suspect. Requiring groups or individuals to report First Amendment activity to the government is antithetical to the values enshrined in our Constitution. If our government is truly one “of the people, for the people, and by the people,” then the people must be able to disseminate information, contact their representatives, and encourage others to do so as well.

Sincerely,

Caroline Fredrickson,
Director, Washington Legislative Office.

Marvin Johnson,
Legislative Counsel.

URL: thomas...S00648
Click on:
Page: S647
AMENDMENT NO. 20
Mr. BENNETT. Madam President, I have an amendment, No. 20, which I have offered…


Comment by
Annette
January 19th, 2007
at 5:01 pm

Could it be that the “nonhysterical” OMB anaylsis was off?


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
January 19th, 2007
at 5:39 pm

Why do you assume that? The ACLU’s commentary is much more sanguine than the hysterics from the Right Wing.


Comment by
Annette
January 19th, 2007
at 10:38 pm

On things like this, I tend to filter out emotion when I read. At any rate, I read a post about the flaws of the OMB analysis a couple of days ago. I’d rather get emotional information that requires me to check out further instead of wrong, flawed legal analysis. I won’t be going to OMBWatch for anything again.