Bloggers paid by politicians may have to 'fess up -- but not yet
The head of the state ethics watchdog agency said Thursday she will seek to require better disclosure rules on political campaigns' payments to bloggers, but will wait until next year to consider a proposal to require reporting by the bloggers themselves.
Legal experts and bloggers had raised "free speech" concerns about the proposal made last month by Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, to have bloggers disclose payments on their websites.
Ravel had said last month that she has heard of campaigns secretly funding bloggers to promote or attack candidates, and argued readers of such blogs have a right to know whether the opinions they are reading are tainted by payments.
"What was clear to me from all of the reaction in the blogosphere was that we were going to have to have a longer process and more public comment,'' Ravel said Thursday. "My thinking is it probably won't be something we present to the commission until next year.''
In the meantime, Ravel said she would like candidates and campaign committees that are already required to disclose expenses to file reports more clearly showing payments to bloggers, possibly in a new public document and on their campaign websites.
"I want it to be in place certainly in time for when the election heats up'' this year, Ravel said. In the run-up to the November election, Ravel said she will continue to ask bloggers to voluntarily disclose payments they receive from political campaigns.