Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee E. Goodman warned Wednesday that the “impulse to regulate the media” among officials at the agency is “alive and well.” Though the FEC is tasked with regulating money in federal elections, it sometimes attempts to interfere with press issues, he said.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Goodman specifically addressed concerns he has about the “disparate treatment of conservative media.” The warning comes as the “right has begun to break the left’s media monopoly.”
“Truth be told, I want conservative media to have the same exemption as all other media,” he added.
In another interview with FoxNews.com, Goodman brought up a 2013 case involving WCBV-TV in Boston in which the station was accused of illegally excluding a third-party candidate in a debate-style program. The FEC analyzed the case and mulled taking action. The case was eventually dismissed.
However, the mere fact that the FEC even looked at the case shows “that there are people in the FEC who believe we have the power to regulate the media,” Goodman said.
Fortunately, the current chairman says he believes all media — regardless of political affiliation — should have a “broad and absolute” exemption from federal overreach.
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Goodman also pointed to recent cases where the FEC was deadlocked, 3-3, on cases he argues should have been unanimously struck down. This includes a 2010 complaint about "The Sean Hannity Show" over an endorsement that went out on the radio show's distribution list.
Goodman, a Republican, has raised concerns that the FEC could try to specifically regulate conservative media, by chipping away at a media exemption in FEC rules.
The fact that the commission is deliberating on these media cases, he argues, raises the concern that the commission is just one appointment away from eroding that exemption. This, he said, should not be subject to the "idiosyncratic judgment of individual commissioners."
Plus, speaking from experience as a lawyer, he said split decisions can have the effect of chilling media activity. "Split votes kill activity," he said.
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