Thursday, April 26, 2007

Victory for Free Speech

More good news from the left coast today. The spirit of American liberty is alive in the State of Washington and is resisting political attempts to silence government opposition. Talk On!, KVI 570 talk radio hosts John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur, and Vicki McKenna and Charlie Sykes and all the rest.

Victory for Free Speech: In a unanimous ruling and a victory for free speech, the Washington Supreme Court today rejected one of the most outrageous abuses of state campaign finance laws in the nation when it ruled that media commentary does not qualify as an “in-kind” contribution that must be reported to the state. The case is San Juan County v. No New Gas Tax. was sued in June 2005 by San Juan County and the cities of Kent, Auburn and Seattle under the state’s campaign finance laws for failing to report supposed “in-kind contributions” from KVI 570 talk radio hosts John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur. The prosecutors said the hosts’ on-air discussions of I-912, an initiative to roll back a gasoline tax, were not free speech but rather were financial “in-kind” contributions to the campaign.

Court rules that talk-show advocacy is not a campaign contribution: All nine justices agreed that the ruling by Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham was incorrect. … Justice Jim Johnson said the legal action against Carlson and Wilbur was “an example of abusive prosecution by several local governments” and an interference with constitutional rights of free speech. … “Prosecutors must not use the threat of a punitive lawsuit, amounting to an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech, to block political opponents from exercising their constitutional rights,” Johnson wrote.

Campaign finance laws are being used primarily to protect incumbency rather than their ostentatious intent of preventing corruption of elected officials. A few thoughts from long ago posts on this matter.

July 11, 2005: The key phrase is “money or its equivalent”, because once campaign finance regulates not only money but anything that can be expressed in terms of money, then government has the power to regulate virtually all activity.

October 2, 2006: Campaign Finance laws are excessively complex, unduly restrictive and un-American in spirit. Politicians wove this web of traps and barriers in a verbal fog of anti-corruption idealism. The irony is that true corruption is the abandonment of principles, like freedom of speech, for the simple pursuit of power.

Our country belongs to the citizens not the government. If the habitual place holders in the seats of power don’t concur, they need to be dismissed and sent to find honest work.