The Federal Election Commission has recently ruled on the complaint filed against Kos Media (of fame) that alleged it was running a political committee and did not file the required disclosures. The case was MUR 5928 and the documents are available via the Commission's Enforcement Query System (put 5928 in the case field). The interesting point of the dismissal is how it avoided answering the complaint.

The FEC, in their ruling said "First, the complaint does not allege, nor does publicly available information indicate, that Kos Media is owned or controlled by a political party, committee, or candidate." (Page 5, lines 17-18). They state this because if there was such an allegation or if Kos Media was a political committee, the media exemption doesn't apply. The problem is the entire complaint's sole focus is the fact that Kos Media is a political committee. That was exactly what I alleged. They simply ignored that, pretended I was alleging something else, and dismissed the complaint. This means with about a two-page long pleading and a $350 filing fee, this decision could be overturned trivially on appeal.

The more important issue, however, is the idea that FEC regulation is censorship. This is indefensibly false and every single blogger who claimed that it was goes to show that most bloggers aren't about facts; they are about hysteria and fear-mongering. It simply is not reasoned commentary but rants coming straight from the black helicopter crowd. To prove this answer the following questions:

Are the RNC and DNC political committees?

Do they have hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of members?

Are they regulated by the FEC?

How, in the decades of such regulation, have those hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people been silenced?

The fact is, they haven't. Disclosure is not censorship by a long shot. We could argue about McCain-Feingold, but even if this complaint succeeds that law doesn't apply in this case anyway. FEC regulation has not shut down the RNC and DNC, I certainly get enough of their mailings. People still talk about politics even though they are members of a party. Western civilization as we know it has not collapsed. For an organization like Kos Media to whine on one hand about censorship, but on the other call for actual censorship in saying FOX News doesn't have a right to be on the air is the pinnacle of hypocrisy. Apparently they believe the government shouldn't control who has the right to be on the air… they believe they should have that editorial control.

In between posting agitprop worthy of a Michael Moore movie and posting the victimologies about how a well-funded, well-connected multi-million dollar corporation is oppressed because a private citizen legally petitioned his government, there are some other interesting facts. Namely, Kos' attorney keeps issuing sometimes overt, sometimes vague threats. If they're so right, why do they need to keep threatening to file SLAPP suits when they know full well there is absolutely no cause of action. It's likely because they have something to hide.

At the end of the day, the issue is still not about regulation of blogs. It's about regulation of political committees who organize online. If Kos Media wants to be in the business of electing Democrats, that's fine. They just have to register like every other political committee doing the same thing.

John Bambenek is the Assistant Politics Editor for BC Magazine and is an academic professional for the University of Illinois. By trade, he is an information security professional, part of the Internet Storm Center and a courseware author and certification grader for the GIAC family of security certifications. He is a syndicated columnist who blogs at Part-Time Pundit and the executive director of The Tumaini Foundation which helps AIDS orphans and other children in Tanzania to get an education.

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