Jan 14, 2007

Grassroots lobby girds for battle

The Free Speech Coalition is now leading the fight against proposals for mandatory reporting by any group involved in paid efforts to stimulate grassroots communications — another term for the proverbial pleas to voters to “contact your congressman” on a particular issue. Led by conservative fixtures such as direct-mail guru Richard Viguerie and Free Congress Foundation chief Paul Weyrich, the coalition is pulling no punches.The conservative blogosphere has lent its heft to the Coalition’s campaign against grassroots disclosure, along with past Federal Election Commission Chairman Brad Smith, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton. Smith also predicted that the grassroots provisions would merit a court challenge if they become law.
MacCleery also singled out the proposal’s minimum of $25,000 in grassroots expenses to trigger reporting by the firms contracted for any issue campaign. “That’s a substantial amount of money on a grassroots lobbying effort, particularly in the age of the Internet,” she said.
As for the coalition’s rhetorical combat with Public Citizen, MacCleery characterized the specter of a lawsuit against grassroots rules as an attempt to generate a false opposition to reform.
“It’s almost like they’re flacks,” she added, “like they’re good at creating the appearance of controversy where none exists.”

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