Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Senators Vote to Restrict Free Speech for Citizen Activists

From Magic City Morning Star

Senators Vote to Restrict Free Speech for Citizen Activists
By Christian News Wire
Mar 3, 2006, 10:46

FAIRFAX, VA -- "Today the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed onerous disclosure rules on America's grassroots activists that infringe on several First Amendment protections including freedom of speech, assembly and the ability of citizens to petition the government," stated Kerri Houston, National Spokesperson for The LobbySense Coalition.

"These restrictions are part of a Lobby Reform bill that should be targeted at Congress, not at groups that bring the people's message to Congress."

The original author of the language, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Committee Chair Susan Collins (R- ME) backed away from the grassroots constraints in the bill, but the Lieberman (D-CT) and Levin (D-MI) amendment to regulate grassroots activities passed 10-6.

All seven committee Democrats voted for it (Lieberman, Levin, Akaka (HI), Carper (DE), Dayton (MN), Lautenberg (NJ), and Pryor (AR); as did Republicans Stevens (AK), Voinovich (OH), and Chafee (RI). Voting "no" were Republicans Coleman (MN), Coburn (OK), Bennett (UT), Domenici (NM), and Warner (VA), in addition to Collins.

"What is extraordinary is that Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska not only voted for these disclosure and mobilization restrictions, but embraced them. It seems odd that Senator Stevens wants to slap duct tape on the very free-market economic and environmental organizations that have stood behind the policy issue most important to him - America's need for prudent and environmentally sound drilling in ANWR. These "grassroots" include many of our coalition partners as well as the Inupiat and other Alaskan citizen activists in his home state who have gone to the mat for him on this issue," stated Jason Wright, LobbySense Executive Director.

"The bill will proceed to the floor for a vote next week, and the 50-plus members of the LobbySense coalition will continue to be active and vocal against these restrictions.

Read the rest of the article here.

Comment: This has been a common method used by McCain and his fellow oligarchs, like George Voinovich, cutting the small guy out of politics by restricting freedom of speech. In the end it will be the very rich and big lobbying groups that will have any type of access to elected politicians. Call and write to your Senator and tell them vote no on Lobbying Reform Bill.

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