The White House has vowed to veto a “redundant, overly broad, ambiguous, and unenforceable” bill proposed by House Democrats that would ostensibly stop federal election campaigns from procuring foreign assistance.
But while the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy Act (SHIELD) purports to stop foreign operatives from interfering in America’s elections, it contains an extensive “web of requirements and prohibitions” that extend way beyond this scope, the White House argued in a statement posted Wednesday.
“While the Trump Administration seeks to limit foreign national interference in our elections by strengthening FECA and combatting illegal behavior, the SHIELD Act would produce harmful unintended consequences without achieving that goal. Accordingly, the Administration opposes H.R. 4617,” the statement reads.
While the partisan mainstream media seemingly made no efforts to investigate the White House’s claims, National Review senior political correspondent Jim Geraghty did.
“The bill would require political campaigns to report any attempt by a foreign government or individual to influence an election to the Federal Election Commission and the FBI,” he’s confirmed.
So far, so good. However, the bill would also “apply all of the current FCC rules on political advertising to the Internet and social media.”
Therefore, “[a]ll online platforms would have to keep records of requests to advertise on their sites and make those records available to the public if the expenditures are $500 or more.”
These records would have to consist of “a digital copy of the ad, ‘a description of the audience targeted by the advertisement, the number of views generated from the advertisement, and the date and time that the advertisement is first displayed and last displayed,’ the ad rates, the candidate the ad or issue refers to, and the name and address of the person purchasing the advertisement.”
That’s a lot of overhead.
Even more concerning, Geraghty has argued, is a provision within the verbose bill that states, “Nothing in this subtitle or the amendments made by this subtitle shall be construed to impede legitimate journalistic activities.”
What is meant by “legitimate journalistic activities,” though?
“At some point, the federal agencies enforcing this law would have to determine what is ‘legitimate’ journalism and what is not ‘legitimate’ journalism,” Geraghty has noted.
“And Republican House members are understandably concerned that having the government decide which journalistic institutions are ‘legitimate’ will set up First Amendment challenges down the road.”
The White House did not address the First Amendment aspect of SHIELD in its statement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did, however, address it in a scathing statement made on the Senate floor Wednesday.
“House Democrats have achieved something remarkable here,” he reportedly said. “They have drafted legislation that is so anti-First Amendment that it has united everybody from former [Federal Election Commission (FEC)] commissioners to the [American Civil Liberties Union] to yours truly in opposition to it.”
“Congress has real business to attend to,” he continued. “House Democrats need to stop blocking the USMCA. Senate Democrats need to stop blocking defense funding. Yet rather than work on these issues, we instead see Democrats continue to fixate on chipping away at the First Amendment. It is a pet project they return to time and time again. It’s disturbing. Especially in light of recent, blatant attempts to intimidate Americans into silence.”
“Just a few months ago, a sitting House Democrat earned national criticism when he publicly tweeted out a list of his own constituents in San Antonio, Texas who had donated to President Trump’s campaign.”
“He listed these private citizens’ names along with their employers or businesses. In this era of political harassment and online mobs, the implication was clear as day,” McConnell continued. “So, from Twitter posts to partisan messaging bills, House Democrats’ mission is the same: Chill the exercise of free speech. Send a message to Americans with inconvenient views that speaking up is more trouble than it’s worth.”
The conservative advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform also opposes SHIELD.
Americans for Tax Reform are opposing #SHIELDAct
“SHIELD Act would do next to nothing to secure our elections while trampling all over the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.”
READ MORE: https://t.co/Mligax2LQO
— House Admin. Committee GOP (@HouseAdmnGOP) October 23, 2019
“The SHIELD Act is a wishlist of Democrat priorities that focuses on restricting the political speech of Americans instead of targeting foreign meddlers abroad,” the organization noted in a statement Wednesday.
The Democrats’ passage of the act comes amid numerous attempts by them to silence the voices of those with whom they disagree, including even the voice of President Donald Trump, whose campaign ads appear to be getting under their skin.
Just last week Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren ran a text ad on Facebook disparaging the social network for allowing the president to advertise freely on its platform like every other candidate running for office.
And during a hearing Wednesday with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, radical Dem. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez labeled The Daily Caller — a conservative news outlet — a white supremacist website and suggested Facebook should sever its ties with the entity.
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