July 23, 2007
Will Congress cheat to regulate grassroots?
By Jim Babka
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Subject: Will Congress cheat in order to regulate

This is the "bad thing" we warned you about on Saturday.

A small cabal of organizations and members of Congress have dreamed and schemed for a long time to regulate grassroots organizations like

First, they came for the blogs and web activists. We beat them there.

And already this year, we've clobbered this proposal three times, fair and square, when their target was grassroots organizations who use mass media tools, including the web.

But now, there's a very real danger that this cabal may cheat in order to get what they want anyway.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are planning to avoid the normal conference committee process and use some tricky rules to pass the so-called ethics bill.

Mostly the ethics bill is the usual "non-reform reform" stuff. If they pass some edition of the versions passed by the two chambers it won't matter much one way or another.

But based on their track record we're concerned because there's a very real danger that they could re-insert the grassroots lobbying provisions that would regulate groups like 

Frankly, there's no way of knowing what Pelosi and Reid may stuff into the bill before they spring it on the Congress. We don't know, for sure, if the grassroots provisions will be in this "rush job" of a bill.

But given that they're going outside the normal procedure it is likely we won't know, for sure, until it is too late. Plus, this process will all happen so fast, no one in Congress is likely to read the final version of the bill before they vote on it. So . . .

If the tricks they're using to ram the bill through to passage work, then we, at, along with your other favorite grassroots organizations, could end up being regulated, even though a majority in both chambers have voted, just this year, against such regulations.

The danger is real, but, as you can see, our ability to thwart the danger is also very real. And so, we must act now. And we must act as if the grassroots provisions will be in that "ethics" bill.

There is possible good news here: It's very likely that all we need to do is shine a little light on the process. We need to let Pelosi and Reid and the rest of Congress know that we're watching what they're doing.

Earlier this year, Congress got slammed over these grassroots regulations. They got hit so hard that they removed them.

That's history, and it's recent enough that they should remember it, with just a little reminder from you.

To start with, we're asking you, DC Downsizer, to help stoke their memories. Perhaps these "flashbacks" will be sufficient to remind them of the risk of getting slammed again -- this time for going after grassroots activists in a secretive and underhanded way. We're betting that all we have to do is fire some shots across their bow.

Let's do that TODAY, in two ways.

First, send Congress a message about this issue. This prepares us if they do spring the bill with the grassroots provisions. Your Representative and Senators need to hear from you.

Second, call Pelosi and Reid. Politely tell them you're watching what they're doing with the ethics bill, and you want to make sure that regulations for grassroots organizations aren't reinserted. If they're not re-inserted, we succeed.

Two simple, short phone calls is all it will take. Here are the numbers . . .

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) - 202-225-4965
Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) - 202-224-3542

Remember, it is best to script out something that's both brief and polite before you're going to call.

Thank you!

Finally, we're still working to make budget for July. We're making good progress, but we still have a ways to go. If you can help us . . .

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Please, start a pledge, increase your pledge, or make a generous contribution.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.
Filed under Downsizer Dispatch
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