Republican members block the action, but dang
Dems on FEC vote to punish conservative for making anti-Obama movie
Had there been one more Democrat vote – which is something Democrats want by the way – Joel Gilbert would have been forced to disclose all his funding sources for the film:
The three Democrats on the Federal Election Commission, in their latest and boldest move to regulate conservative media, voted in unison to punish a movie maker critical of President Obama after he distributed for free his latest work, Dreams of My Real Father: A Story of Reds and Deception.
Filmmaker Joel Gilbert, owner of Highway 61 films, has produced several independent politically-themed movies and sent Dreams out to millions of voters in key swing states prior to the 2012 election.
While he acted on his own, and with no ties to political groups or parties, an FEC complaint was filed claiming he violated reporting rules, prompting him to seek the standard media “exemption.”
But despite giving the same exemption to liberal movie makers like Michael Moore and Daily Kos, the Democrats recently voted against Gilbert in a February action, reviving their bid to punish conservative media, a campaign initially targeting online news outlets like the Drudge Report.
So much is wrong here. For starters, while it’s obviously hypocritical that the Dem members wanted to deny the exemption to Gilbert while they gave it to Moore, neither Gilbert nor Moore should ever have had to seek an “exemption” to anything in the first place. Democrats on the FEC want to treat all political speech (well, all political speech by conservatives anyway) as if it’s subject to campaign finance laws – even if there is no evidence of any coordination with or intention to specifically support a candidate.
This is a sneaky way of getting around the First Amendment, as is their method of coming down on you. They won’t put you in jail for what you said, but they’ll demand that you disclose your funding sources and levy all kinds of fine and penalties if you refuse or delay in doing so.
Here is where many on the left would claim that it’s not really a punishment to have to disclose where you got your money, but merely a matter of transparency. The problem with that is this: Joel Gilbert is a private citizen acting on his own. If he doesn’t want to disclose his funding sources, then it is absolutely a punishment to force him to do so. He committed no crime by making an anti-Obama film, regardless of the quality of the film, and it’s entirely up to him whether to publicly reveal who helped him pay for it.
But why not just do it if he has nothing to hide? There could be a lot of reasons. Does anyone remember what happened to Brendan Eich, who was forced out of his job as CEO of Mozilla when activists found out he had contributed to California’s anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8? These days you are at risk of massive public harrassment for putting money into something liberal activists don’t like, so it’s perfectly reasonable that some people might want to anonymously fund forms of political expression.
And where are the mainstream media on this? An arm of the federal government just tried, in a blatantly partisan fashion, to punish an American citizen for political speech. Is that really not a news story to them? Of all the Democrats’ abuses of federal power, none can match the insidiousness of an attempt to silence political opponents via threats under federal election law. And oh yes, the left is clamoring to end the stalemate on the FEC and add a fourth Democrats to the commission. If that happens, be careful what you say.