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Author Topic: Is the RNC afraid of moveon.org or something?
Member # 2559

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intimidation at it's finest?


RNC tells TV stations not to run anti-Bush ads
GOP committee says MoveOn.org's spots are illegally financed

Saturday, March 6, 2004 Posted: 8:53 PM EST (0153 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Republican National Committee is warning television stations across the country not to run ads from the MoveOn.org Voter Fund that criticize President Bush, charging that the left-leaning political group is paying for them with money raised in violation of the new campaign-finance law.

"As a broadcaster licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, you have a responsibility to the viewing public, and to your licensing agency, to refrain from complicity in any illegal activity," said the RNC's chief counsel, Jill Holtzman Vogel, in a letter sent to about 250 stations Friday.

"Now that you have been apprised of the law, to prevent further violations of federal law, we urge you to remove these advertisements from your station's broadcast rotation."

But MoveOn.org's lawyer, Joseph Sandler, said in a statement that the ads were funded legally, calling the RNC's letter "a complete misrepresentation of the law."

"The federal campaign laws have permitted precisely this use of money for advertising for the past 25 years," he said.

And MoveOn.org, which was planning to spend $1.9 million on an ad buy that started Thursday, said Friday that it would spend another $1 million.
'Soft money' targeted

The RNC charges that because the ads are designed to help defeat President Bush, the group cannot pay for them with unlimited "soft money" contributions but only with contributions raised in amounts less than $5,000.

Although MoveOn.org is a so-called "Section 527" organization that is legally allowed to raise soft money in unlimited amounts from donors, the new campaign-finance law prohibits the group from using those funds to pay for ads that directly attack Bush, Vogel said.

And in a bit of political one-upmanship, the letter quotes the presumptive Democratic nominee, Sen. John Kerry, as saying that the objective of the new law "is to eliminate altogether the capacity of soft money to play the role that it does in our politics."

But MoveOn.org says it has raised $10 million for advertising from 160,000 donors, in amounts averaging $50-$60. It is running two ads in 67 TV markets in what its Web site describes as 17 "battleground" states.

"It's not surprising that [RNC Chairman] Ed Gillespie continues to make false claims about the legality of our campaign in order to silence us," Wes Boyd, president of the voter fund, said in a statement. "Our lawyers continue to assure us that our advertising, and the small contributions from tens of thousands of our members that pay for it, conform in every way to existing campaign-finance laws."

The group maintains that a recent ruling from the Federal Election Commission supports the method it is using to fund the ads. But in her letter to the stations, Vogel said that FEC ruling makes it clear that any ad that "promotes, supports, attacks or opposes" a federal candidate comes under the contribution limits, which she charges MoveOn is violating.

One of the ads, called "Worker," ends with the tag line, "George Bush. He's not on our side." The other, called "Child's Play," shows small children working at various jobs and ends with the tag line, "Guess who's going to pay off President Bush's $1 trillion deficit?"

RNC: Problem with funding, not content

Vogel insisted that the RNC's problem with the ads stemmed from their funding, not their content.

"I write not because of the misleading allegations contained in the advertisement, which will be answered in due time, but because running this advertisement breaks the law," Vogel's letter said.

MoveOn.org has been running ads for several months on cable channels, which don't fall under FCC regulations. However, CBS refused to broadcast the group's ads during the Super Bowl, saying the network did not run issue advertising.

MoveOn.org and other groups trying to defeat Bush have been raising money to help the Democratic nominee compete with the president's vast war chest in the period between the end of the Democratic primaries and the political conventions. The Bush-Cheney campaign, which launched its first ad salvo this week, has more than $100 million to spend.

The RNC has complained that though it is no longer allowed to use soft money for campaigning, MoveOn.org is accepting large soft money contributions from a cadre of wealthy donors, including billionaire financier George Soros and film producer Steven Bing, in its quest to defeat the president.

Soros has said ousting Bush this year is now the "central focus of my life."

This really pisses me off. Since when did the RNC have the right to decide what funding FOR INDEPENDANT ORGANISATIONS are legal and what aren't (tossing aside the mere simple fact that no regulatory body has made any kind of announcements about this)?

This sickens me. First, they were denied the right to play their commercials during the SuperBowl. Granted, the GOP wasn't directly involved (at least that the public has been able to prove), but CBS's actions over the past 6 months have given rise to a theory that they're only there for the GOP.

I so can't wait until November so I can vote against Bush and his cronies.... [Mad] [Mad] [Mad] [Mad] [Mad]

Edit: changed some formatting

[ March 06, 2004, 10:01 PM: Message edited by: slacker ]

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Member # 5818

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Hey, that's why McCain-Feingold was such a bad idea.


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Whether or not McCain Feingold is a bad idea, this isn't particularly dependent on it. This is an issue with the RNC advocating a legal position which is both contested and curiously in line with their views. It is not up to them to determine whether or not ads get aired. Neither is it up to the stations, I believe -- I don't think they're penalized for showing ads which are not allowed under the act. Its an issue for the courts to decide, when it does happen.

[ March 06, 2004, 10:21 PM: Message edited by: fugu13 ]

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Beren One Hand
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If the RNC is so sure of its position, why don't they take it to the courts?
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I thought CBS's position on airing the ads during the superbowl was a little weird. They said they didn't want to air them because they were making political statements. Does that mean that CBS doesn't air any political ads? I find that a little odd....

I wonder if this business with the RNC would constitute slander (since the lawyer for Moveon.org says that the funding is not illegal)?

[ March 06, 2004, 10:29 PM: Message edited by: ludosti ]

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Why am I skeptical of the notion that if the first move had been in the courts there wouldn't have been hysterical outrage from the Angry Left? Instead of whining about having to follow the law, why not work to repeal campaign-finance "reform"?

For more details on MF: http://www.theweeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/797eiqkh.asp

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Does the idea of the courts being involved in what is "acceptable" political speech not bother anybody else? No one should be able to threaten legal sanctions against anyone for running a political ad.


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Hehe . . . they mistitled "Child's Pay" too!
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Dagonee, they wouldn't go to church for content of the speech, but for whether it was legally funded...


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Um, this is a legal thing. When the article says Jill Holtzman Vogel is the RNC's chief counsel, it's saying he's their lawyer.

So please, notice some things:

1. This is not coming from the White House, through the FCC. It is not President Bush issuing an executive order.

2. It is coming from the Republican National Committee's lawyers. In other words, they are threatening to sue any station that airs the ads. In other words, it is going through the legal system.

3. It was the conservatives who fought the act that forces this type of speech control in the first place. The democrats have been fighting FOR this type of law, and now that the Republicans are asking that the Democrats hold to it, they're being accused of violating free speech.

4. If the courts declare the law unconstitutional, it will actually be a victory for Conservatives as well, since this was a law we didn't want to begin with.

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Dagonee, they wouldn't go to church for content of the speech, but for whether it was legally funded...


But the analysis for deciding whether it was legally funded or not must take the content into account. I find this utterly incompatible with the first amendment. I know the Court didn't, but this still seems very obvious to me.


[ March 07, 2004, 09:58 AM: Message edited by: Dagonee ]

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