FEC targets conservative media while giving liberals a pass
The three highly partisan Democratic commissioners on the Federal Election Commission are determined to punish conservative media. Their latest action failed only because the three Republican commissioners failed to go along with their attack.
Filmmaker Joel Gilbert, owner of Highway 61 films, has produced several independent politically-themed movies and sent Dreams out to millions of voters in key swing states prior to the 2012 election.
While he acted on his own, and with no ties to political groups or parties, an FEC complaint was filed claiming he violated reporting rules, prompting him to seek the standard media "exemption."
But despite giving the same exemption to liberal movie makers like Michael Moore and Daily Kos, the Democrats recently voted against Gilbert in a February action, reviving their bid to punish conservative media, a campaign initially targeting online news outlets like the Drudge Report.
Lucky for Gilbert, the three Republicans on the FEC also united to vote to give him the exemption. The tie vote blocked any action, and was followed by a unanimous 6-0 vote to close the file. Had he lost, Gilbert would have been required to report who helped fund the anti-Obama movie.
The latest Democratic move on conservatives comes as some Democrats in Congress, and liberal publications, are pushing to end the even split between Democrats and Republicans on the FEC, a move conservatives have warned would lead to punishing new rules on right-leaning media and candidates.
Republican Commissioner Lee E. Goodman has been warning about the assault on conservative media for three years and said the vote on Gilbert showed that the Democrats are still focused on right-leaning media.
"Freedom of the press isn't so free when three government commissars vote to punish a filmmaker for distributing a documentary film," he told Secrets.
It hasn't mattered who is president; the FEC has tried to stifle free speech since its creation. It doesn't need fewer commissioners – it needs an overhaul of its mission. It doesn't go after fraud in fundraising like the flow of overseas cash into Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns or Hillary's mega-donors exceeding the law. Instead, it targets media for what it considers unlawful campaign contributions.
This casts a pall over partisan media, especially on the right. No one knows when the FEC is going to take exception to something he's created, because guidelines are ridiculously vague – and intentionally so. It gives the regulators flexibility into going after just about anyone they wish.
As long as we have campaign finance laws, we need an FEC. But surely they have better things to do than go after independent filmmakers who express an opinion opposed to some of the commissioners.