Thursday, January 18, 2007

Background Information

The Grassroots Continues to Appeal to the Senate for Free Speech

The public outcry over the free-speech inhibiting Section 220 of Senate Bill 1 -- which is now being debated -- continues to get the Senate's attention.

Debate on an amendment to strike the troubling provision took place on the Senate floor today.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes it was apparent the grassroots appeal was being heard. A prominent senator called Focus on the Family Action to learn more about our constituents' objections to Section 220. People have sent more than 36,500 faxes on the topic through the CitizenLink Action Center. About 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for Section 220 to be struck.

Focus Action sent a fax to every member of the Senate yesterday (1/17/07) laying out the arguments against the provision.

? If Section 220 becomes law, non-profit organizations will have to file reports to Congress every three months that detail the issues they have asked constituents to contact their lawmakers about, the employees involved in developing those communications, and the dollars spent on those efforts.

? Practically, this would force organizations to track and report every discussion with an elected official, each article written on legislation, and every stamp and piece of paper attached to the mere mention of a policy issue. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to $200,000, per incident.

? The requirements of Section 220 are redundant to what 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 organizations currently do. They already must file detailed annual reports with the Internal Revenue Service with regard to its communications with the grass-roots on matters of public policy. When communications involve elections, they are also subject to filing reports with the Federal Election Commission.

? If S. 1 is passed in its current form, it would force organizations like Focus on the Family Action to choose between spending the money sacrificially donated to us to communicate with families about important issues or spending it on attorneys and accountants to make sure we comply with a redundant law.

? Organizations like ours are treated under this section as if we were Jack Abramoff. Section 220 equates us educating families about issues that affect them with high-paid lobbyists offering Members of Congress expensive meals and junkets.

? Strangely, Section 220 would not apply to labor unions, trade association and foreign corporations, which will remain free to communicate with their members to urge their involvement in the legislative process. How can it be viewed as anything other than an attempt to muzzle groups like ours?


If you haven't sent your faxes, you still can. The message is prewritten and the service is free.

Please see below for further instructions.

To sign the petition, go here.

(Paid for by Focus on the Family Action)