Free speech may be imperiled, in the US, of all places:
In reaction to the lobbying scandals of the past several years associated with Jack Abramoff and others, the U.S. Senate is seriously considering lobbying reform legislation (S.1).
But within the 56-page measure are sweeping new restrictions on free speech regarding what is going on in Congress.
Section 220 of the bill would for the first time restrict and regulate paid efforts to stimulate "grassroots lobbying." Section 220 defines "grassroots lobbying" as follows: "The term ‘grassroots lobbying’ means the voluntary efforts of members of the general public to communicate their own views on an issue to Federal officials or to encourage other members of the general public to do the same."
This provision would have a chilling, if not freezing, effect on grassroots organizations like Feminists for Life – and your right to be informed about what is going on in Congress.
Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) has offered BENNETT AMENDMENT No. 20 to Senate Bill 1. The BENNETT AMENDMENT removes the most dangerous section of S.1 by striking Section 220 entirely from the bill. (The reporting requirements and fines included in Section 220 are listed below.)
Feminists for Life joins National Right to Life Committee and other advocacy groups in strongly supporting the BENNETT AMENDMENT No. 20.
The vote on the BENNETT AMENDMENT will likely be today—Wednesday, January 17th. Discussion on the floor has just begun! Please contact your U.S. senators NOW to urge support for the BENNETT AMENDMENT No. 20 to Senate Bill 1—an amendment that will help protect our right to advocate on behalf of women and children. Call 202-224-3121 and ask for your senator’s offices. Or you can go to this web-link to find a direct dial number.
Don’t let anyone take away our right to advocate on behalf of women and children. Thank you.
Because women deserve better,
Serrin M. Foster
Feminists for Life of America
SPECIFICS OF Section 220—WHICH WOULD BE REMOVED BY THE BENNET AMENDMENT:
-- Under Section 220 of S. 1, anyone who is paid anything by an organization that spends any money at all to encourage more than 500 members of the general public to communicate with members of Congress, if he or she also has contacted congressional offices directly as few as two times, and has spent as little as 20% of his or her time on such direct lobbying and grassroots-motivating activities, would be required to register with Congress and file detailed quarterly reports, including information regarding donors to the organizations under some circumstances.
-- In addition, any such individual who is paid by an organization or organizations spending more than $25,000 in a three-month period on "paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying" would also be required to register and report expenditures as a "grassroots lobbying firm."
-- Violation of the bill's requirements would be punishable by a civil fine of up to $200,000 per infraction. "Corrupt" violations would also be punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison (whether a given violation was deemed "corrupt" would be initially determined by a U.S. attorney, a political appointee).
PLEASE JOIN FEMINISTS FOR LIFE IN SUPPORTING THE BENNETT AMENDMENT.
CONTACT YOUR SENATORS TODAY. THANK YOU!