Dems on FEC want to investigate political jokes

This is not a headline from The Onion.  Two of three Democrats on the Federal Election Commission voted to investigate a joke told by GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee about asking contributors to give a milion dollars to his campaign.

All three Republicans on the commission and the remaining Democrat voted against the investigation, killing the idea for the time being.  Even Democratic staffers were amused by the idea, mocking the two members who wanted to investigate what was clearly a joke.

Washington Examiner:

At that event, he said, "I will be funded and fueled not by the billionaires, but by working people across America who will find out that $15 and $25 a month contributions can take us from Hope to higher ground. If you want to give a million dollars, please do it, but most can't."

He later told the FEC it was a joke, and the FEC staff report on the issue noted that Huckabee even changed his demeanor when he said it to reinforce that he wasn't serious.

"We conclude that an objective listener would not reasonably have understood that Huckabee in fact solicited million-dollar contributions. Rather, he appeared, to be making a humorous aside in the course of his speech," said the just released staff report that recommended that a complaint against the former Arkansas governor be dismissed.

But when the vote — also just released — was taken, Ravel and Weintraub balked. All three Republicans and the third Democrat on the FEC voted to dismiss the complaint.

The two Democrats backed legal enforcement of the claim that Huckabee was actively urging supporters to contribute more than the legal limits of $2,700. The complaint against Huckabee said that he was actually soliciting big dollar contributions for an affiliated political action committee, but he never mentioned it in his speech.

In mocking language, the FEC staff noted in its report how it was clearly a joke. Said the report:


Huckabee expressly dismissed the idea that members of his audience would provide large contributions and instead encouraged his listeners to consider contributing $15 or $25 a month. Huckabee then visibly altered his facial expression and tone and added that, "[i]f you want to give a million dollars, please do it." Indeed, while making the aside, his demeanor changed in a way that further would have reasonably evidenced to his audience that his remarks were not serious or intended to be taken literally — he closes his eyes, pauses, shrugs, and smiles — and may in the audience laughed.

Complaints of this sort usually originate with the FEC staff, so you can easily imagine some hyperpartisan FEC flunkie looking to make trouble for Huckabee while ramming home the point that the FEC can determine the limits of political speech – even humor. 

We should fear the future of political discourse if Hillary Clinton is elected president.  The entire executive department apparatus – IRS, EPA, DoJ, FEC, FCC – will be employed to stifle opposition speech.  It will be all nice and legal, wrapped up in high-sounding rhetoric that will cite "fairness" as an excuse to limit free expression.  But the effect will be devastating politically and constitutionally. 

As idiotic as these two Democrats appear to be, they are harbingers of the future.

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