The Washington Post today covers the latest discussion about how to regulate political bloggers (if at all). It seems that everyone is in agreement that most should not be subject to FEC regulation, but there remains one sticky area yet to address: bloggers paid by campaigns.
Most are familiar with the "paid for by …" line that appears on ads, direct mail, and such. Even the web sites of candidates carry such a line.
Should bloggers paid by campaigns have to issue a similar disclosure?
Trevor Potter, a former FEC commissioner, said as a practical matter it would often be difficult to distinguish between those who have been hired to blog and those who have been hired for some other reason — to help run a campaign’s Internet operations, for example — and, as is increasingly the case these days, also happen to have a blog.
Bloggers often like to hold themselves out as journalists. For those who do, one would expect them to disclose as a matter of ethics — whether they were paid specifically to blog or not. Regardless, it would be reasonable for the FEC to require individuals paid by a campaign to blog to disclose it, just as they would disclose printing mail, running ads, or creating their own web site.