Monday, July 11, 2005

Based in part on statistics showing I have zero readership here, and 10 times as much on my other blog, updates here will be rare, but will be at least monthly, based on when I see something of interest and am not off doing useful work (rare.)

Eugene Volokh, at the election law list, points to this story:

A couple of radio journalists are involved in an initiative to stop a tax increase.
Prosecutors are saying their work, including on air-coverage, is an in kind contribution and much be reported. A judge agreed, and in a short opinion threatened to put the hammer down with injunctions and more.

I don't know the facts or the law, so what I'm doing here is just setting out how I'd go about looking at the situation.
Framework for analysis:
What does the disclosure statute say? Does it have a press exemption? Are they within it?
What is the agency practice? Is this sort of harrasment standard procedure, or it content based and arbitrary?
Is there an argument to interpret the statute to not apply here, in order to avoid constitutional questions?
What does the state constitution say? Text and caselaw.
- If the statute, properly construed, required press coverage be treated as an in-kind contribution, it is probably a violation of free speech rights under the state constitution, and free election rights as well.
If the case cannot be resolved as a matter of state law, there are federal claims.
Tornillo v. Miami Herald seems very on point - the government doesn't get to micromanage a newspaper's editorial page - this probably should apply to radio as well. Compare Red Lion to Reno v ACLU, and brush up on Belloti.

Update: Michelle Malkin has a lot more.
Hat tip wince and nod.

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