Campaign Troll

By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine
Monday, August 26, 2013

There is simply no logical or ethical reason to oppose a proposal, pending before the Fair Political Practices Commission, that would require candidates and campaigns to identify the people and amounts of money they pay to post propaganda online

As FPPC chairwoman Ann Ravel noted, the idea is to ensure that the public is aware when online content “is masquerading as someone’s opinion as opposed to paid opinion.”

Frankly, we don’t understand how anyone can make a case against this. The suggestion by some that that the rule is unnecessary, unenforceable and overly broad makes no sense.

It should be a simple matter for a candidate or campaign to list, in their spending reports, the people they’re paying to post messages on their behalf or against an opponent. Moreover, since he’s being paid, it seems a simple matter for the troll to report to the campaign where he posted his pearls of wisdom.

If the poster behind Gov. Jerry Brown’s dog Sutter is exposed by the regulation, as our friend Steve Maviglio has worried, so what? What a stupid argument.

Why Maviglio and Flash are in the sack together The FPPC’s regulations should always seek to provide maximum exposure of the people, forces and resources at work in political communications. Anonymity is no virtue in the public square.

The political process evolved from handbills and speeches to door-knockers, precinct walkers, campaign rallies and television ads. It has evolved once again to include the Internet, for campaign ads, blast-emails, creative use of Facebook and Twitter, website commenting and other forms of online messaging. To keep up with the change in technological forms, FPPC regulations must evolve as well.

Calbuzz has spoken on this issue on more than one occasion, arguing that as voters increasingly get their political information from online sources, they need to know if what they’re reading is bought and paid for.

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