Wisconsin GOP Congressman Paul Ryan’s leadership PAC, Prosperity Action, asked the Federal Election Commission for permission in advance of doing something fairly logical. They want to buy copies of Ryan’s published book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea, to give away to supporters, in conjunction with a book tour. Of course they’d also help promote the book, since its author is also their candidate.
In an Orwellian reversal, the FEC responded to Ryan’s innocuous request with not one, but two drafts. The second, “Draft B”, would be a major policy change, calling the PAC’s purchase a “third party contribution” with “excessive personal use.”
Not only would “Draft B” represent a chilling restriction on a candidate’s ability to promote his (or her—Hillary) own book, but it also flies in the face of logic and common sense. FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman has the horse-sense to see this.
“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,” warned Chairman Lee E. Goodman, one of three Republicans on the six-person FEC.
“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,” he added.
Everybody who writes or publishes a book realizes that it’s the author’s job to promote the book. Otherwise, the book doesn’t sell, and the publisher loses money. Just ask Simon & Schuster, who paid Hillary Clinton millions so she could raise money (for a—gasp!—campaign??) and not promote the book, which bombed.
This FEC decision limits Ryan’s ability to promote his own book to two sentences on the website run by Prosperity Action. If that’s not censorship, no…of course it can’t be, it’s just enforcing a little-known campaign law used to prosecute John Edwards hush money paid by Bunny Mellon to conceal his mistress. To make this jump from a filthy payoff to book promotion, you’d need a pole that reaches over the Grand Canyon.
After Goodman’s remarks at the FEC meeting, Democratic Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub screeched “No one is banning books”. Of course not, you’re just banning promoting books, a ludicrous distinction.
The FEC’s trampling the First Amendment rights of a sitting Congressman is beyond every red line of Government tyranny we have. It is in fact, a genuine outrage.