Cracking Down on Bloggers Paid by Campaigns

Aaron Flint posted on April 20, 2012 13:06 :: 867 Views

We have numerous bloggers in Montana.  Most of the blogs and bloggers have an ideological bent, either conservative or liberal, and typically end up promoting or bashing a given political candidate. 

So what do we do if a blogger is actually paid by a specific campaign, especially here in Montana where we have a dearth of campaign reporting requirements? Currently, nothing unless it is expressly noted in campaign expenditure reports.  That was the gist I got from a phone call inquiry with Kym Trujillo in Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices office. 

California is looking to change that, as The Sacramento Bee reports

State law currently requires campaigns to disclose expenditures to bloggers, but the bloggers themselves don’t have to disclose receiving payment.

Ravel’s goal is to require disclosure on the website where readers view the blogger’s opinions.

Ravel said her proposal would apply to payments received by bloggers for initiative campaigns as well as candidate efforts.

Should something like this take place here in Montana?  How would a potential law apply to anonymous bloggers?  

Certainly all questions could incite interesting answers from the blogosphere.  It also raises interesting questions for the anti-Citizens United crowd.  The same groups of people who oppose other groups of people teaming up to exercise their First Amendment rights have an unlimited ability to promote their agenda and candidates online.  And, who knows, the bloggers opposed to Citizens United may very well be the people on the payroll of the candidates or politicians to begin with. 

(Since some may wonder, I am not paid by any of the candidates.  This blog and our radio talk show is funded through advertising, and believe me, we are an equal opportunity advertiser.  So, if you want to buy an ad, just look up our sales team at the top of the page.  The primary is coming soon.)

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