Tuesday, November 01, 2005



IT was inevitable, I suppose, once America started sliding down that slippery slope on the backside of the first amendment and began regulating political speech by regulating the money that buys it.

Some loudmouthed hawking prevaricator - excuse me, I mean commentator - being paid to perch behind a microphone and rouse rabble would rouse the ire of someone eager to test the "new" first amendment.

Enter Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson of KVI radio. Caught in the fervor of their crusade to repeal the recent gas tax increase, they used their microphones and their locally dominant market positions to not only advocate for the repeal but to materially aid it with organizing efforts, fundraising, and signature gathering. Last July First, Judge Christopher Wickham of the Thurston County Superior Court ruled these activities are in-kind contributions, not ordinarily protected speech.

The Seattle Times, using what can only be described as a "brother prevaricators under the skin" logic, upbraids the court here


while curmudgeon emeritus Ken Schram blasts the Times and KVI for supporting the kind of irresponsibility that created the situation http://komotv.com/news/story.asp?ID=40011

All in all, the whole thing is one more good example of the folly of this kind of regulation in the first place.

Still, if you believe "fair" is more than a place to look at cows & chickens, you might be irritated that Kirby & John are using KVI's broadcasting license not just to advocate for but to materially advance causes personally important to them and are being paid to do it, instead of having to pay for the privilege of a publically licensed microphone, which is what the rest of us would have to do. Quite a fringe benefit, that...

You might remember that when John Carlson's work and on-air advocacy on I-200 some years back generated controversy, John left KVI to avoid even the appearance of impropriety on his part or KVI's.

Perhaps the Times gives us the seed of a better idea when they remark "Paid speech can be regulated — not by what it says, but by limiting the money available to buy it. Unpaid speech cannot be regulated."

Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson, in my opinion, should:

1) Contribute that portion of their salaries earned while hawking for I-912 to the opponents of I-912, and

2) Pay KVI the $20,000 Brett Bader estimated the in-kind help was worth to the campaign for I-912.

It is, after all, supposed to be "free" speech... Pony up, boys.

Not only do I agree with you, but I think that the Seattle PI is equally guilty in the opposite regard.
I also think that various government departments are guilty of using government funds to lobby, and many elected figures should reimburse the taxpayers when they use the trappings of their office to campaign.

Or we could be more realistic, have no limits on contributions, and instant reporting.

I think I like my way better.

I will admit, I suspected that Kirby and John were stepping over the current line at the time, and was not surpised this happened.
How do those of us with bumper stickers get charged for our advocacy; by the mile or the gallon
So wait, because it's a public microphone, you're saying that they should pay personally? I don't follow this logic. Aren't public forums intended for the public?

Further, under the campaign finance laws one cannot contribute more than $2K (I think it was 2K, or was it 5K, whatever the case it's a ridiculous notion) prior to the election. Since the judge valued a week of speech at just that price, this means Kirby and John cannot speak about the issue without violating the finance laws. Further they would not be allowed at this late juncture to "pay back" as you suggest, because their speach is "too valuable".

There's really the complication. The I-912 campaign has not paid money to these guys. John and Kirby don't get paid to talk about 912. They're political commenters, they talk about political issues that people care about. A lot of us like I-912 and want to talk about it. They're doing their jobs.

Further IF You know how talk radio works, it is mostly reactionary. They react to stories printed about positions they don't hold. In particular they have given a lot of reaction (exposure) to the PI editorial pages, which the campaign against I-912 has NOT been required to report as in-kind political contributions.

This whole notion that you can litigate a campaign to death is somewhat frightening to me. Let the talking heads talk. I've noticed 710AM spends plenty of time airing opposite viewpoints, and even KOMO 1000 (which is a sister station to KVI) spends considerable time airing folks like the Governor, King Kounty Executive Ron Sims, and others who openly advocate voting down the initiative.

The point is that the application of this ruling is really NOT being applied fairly.

OK, 'possum, reading your opinion forms of a picture of you in my mind of a contemptuous old duffer, sitting on the back porch sipping a lemonade and swatting at flies. It seems to me that you need to prioritize which is more important to you, government entities and their lawyer cronies spending millions of dollars to prop up those same government entities, or two talk show radio commentators who may have crossed over some arbitrary free speech line that is in your head.
I have to confess, a few nights ago at a public restaurant I got into a debate with my wife and another couple about I-912. I supported I-912, because in the line of work I am in, I work with many civil engineering firm principals along with a number of state agency staffers and been told some candid comments that make me feel we need to stop the WDOT/Sound-Transit/Seattle-Monorail political machines before more nearly criminal levels of financial waste occur. I freely shared my views with the other three people at dinner and anyone who overheard us.

Do I need to disclose this as an "in kind contribution for I-912" to the Public Disclosure Commission?

Is the nexus of the argument that the radio airwaves are regulated and therefore not as free a speech as "speech not electronically digitized and broadast using an FCC licence?"

Is free speech conducted via writing it on a newspaper somehow more free or less regulateable than free speech from a radio or TV station?

Is free speech conducted via a voice standing a top a soap box or sitting in a restaurant chair about election issues even more free and less regulated than that coming from a newspaper?

Now for my last question, since it seems to be in the news so often. Is free speech conducted by a stripper in her artistic interpretation of her feelings more superior than my dinner conversation on how I am going to vote?

It is a slippery slope, if we judge correctness by what a judge tells us.

Please remember that the "free speech" that created this nation was vicious, seditious, treasonous, and for the most part outrageous lies. The "free speech" that occured in the 1770's and served as the basis for needing protection by the U.S. Constitution would be judged as tame compared to what Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson were doing.

This is Robert again. I just read something in the newspaper I found interesting that I thought might strike closer to home.......

House defeats bill on political blogs

WASHINGTON -- Online political expression should not be exempt from campaign finance law, the House decided Wednesday as lawmakers warned that the Internet has opened up a new loophole for uncontrolled spending on elections.

I guess I now have a new question.....do I or do you have to report my support for I-912???????
ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR (I pay for these guys), the NYT, the LA Times, the WA Post, Hollywood, Oprah, and the list goes on and on.....All liberal, all Bush haters, all anti religion, all afraid of Islam and Mohammed with his 21 wives(the last of which was a 6 year old child),21 SLAVES, all women (I wonder what he did with them). Where are blacks Americans on this issue?.........crickets....

Hey Possum!

Another whiny article about KVI hosts from a bitter liberal who wished the libs had a similar type radio station with equal success and influence.

You failed to mention the constant campaigning against I-912 by the head of the DOT, on radio, during the workday when he should be down in Olympia actually doing some work for the taxpayers.

You failed to mention the campaigning against I-912 by the left-wing fringe who write the P.I. editorials.

We can only speculate on how much time Queen Christine Gregoire has spent working with the No on I-912 campaign. Where is her "in-kind" reporting to the PDC?

Funny, you didn't ask why the PDC has not reported itself to itself for aiding the No-On-912 campaign by sitting on the formal complaint filed against the head of the WA DOT for spending tax dollars campaigning against I-912.

No, you're just upset with two talk show hosts.

I'm not.
Roadkill - I suspect you have a job. Couldn't the argument be made that the Roadkill Journal has a contribution value of speech that might by some word cutter and tyranny loving judge be valued at a hourly equivalency to your income. Pony Up Roadkill!

Freedom - it means things.
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