More On the Swiftees Fine
The Federal Elections Commission chair from 2004
speaks out against the fines levied against the Swift Boat Veterans and MoveOn.org:What did the groups really do wrong? Did they bribe or corrupt politicians? Well, no. You won't find "Duke" Cunningham, William Jefferson or Bob Ney connected to MoveOn or the Swift Boat Veterans. Did they make illegal contributions to campaigns? Well, no again. Did they seek out special favors or illegally coordinate their efforts with candidates? No. The FEC admitted that, after a "thorough" investigation, it found no evidence that any of the groups operated in concert with candidates or sought legislative favors.
But these groups aren't being punished for making errors in their filing papers. They're being punished for criticizing politicians. Now, it's natural that politicians don't like that and might pressure the FEC to shut their critics up — the FEC reportedly acted in part because of pressure from Congress and a lawsuit brought by Reps. Christopher Shays and Martin T. Meehan — but why should ordinary citizens feel offended by criticism of public officials? Shouldn't we be more upset by efforts to silence criticism of public officials?
Excellent article that makes many good points.