Right Hooks

FEC Leaves Open Possibility of Book Regulations

Jul. 24, 2014

Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) new book, “The Way Forward,” started a bit of heat at the Federal Election Commission this week when its chairman warned the agency wants to regulate book publishers. The publisher of Ryan’s book checked with the FEC to be sure it was exempt from its regulations – just the way newspapers are free to publish what they will through a “media exemption.” (We thought the First Amendment was pretty clear, but you know government these days.) The FEC said “The Way Forward” didn’t fall under its rules, but it didn’t go so far as to declare that all books fall under the media exemption. FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman wrote, “By failing to affirm this publisher’s constitutional right, statutory right, to disseminate a political book free from FEC conditions and regulations, we have effectively asserted regulatory jurisdiction over a book publisher.” He continued, “That failure reveals a festering legal uncertainty and chill for the free press rights of books and book publishers to publish and disseminate political books free from government regulation.” Admittedly, there are some pretty bad political books on the market, but that’s none of the federal government’s business. More…

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