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State ethics czar to scale back proposed disclosure rules on blogs

September 19, 2012 |  8:48 am

6a00d8341c630a53ef01761727476a970c-500wiA proposal to require campaigns in California to report when they pay bloggers for favorable mention will be scaled back to exclude instances when campaign workers informally blog or tweet their own views on the side, the head of the state ethics agency says.

Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, said she was responding to criticism at a public hearing Tuesday as well as in the blogosphere that her original proposal was too broad.

"We are planning to modify the regulation so that it does not impact the casual blogger who might be paid to do something else in a campaign,’’ Ravel said.  "And we are going to solicit more input from bloggers and others, so we may not be able to have this on the October commission agenda as originally planned."

The proposal has united bloggers of different ideological bents who see the regulation as unenforceable and a violation of the right to free speech.

"The FPPC should not become the Internet police," said a letter to Ravel from Republican blogger Jon Fleischman and Democratic blogger Steven Maviglio. "The commission has no role in chilling political speech as this regulation proposes to do.’’

Ravel said the public has a right to know if the opinions of bloggers and other Internet pundits are purchased by political campaigns.

"This is central to the role of the FPPC, to have transparency in political campaigns so that the voting public can make informed decisions,’’ Ravel said after the hearing.

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Ethics czar angers bloggers with proposal to shine light on campaign pay

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: State Fair Political Practices Commission Chairwoman Ann Ravel. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

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