Back in 2012, when the coal industry was taking a beating thanks to the draconian regulations put in place by the unelected Environmental Protection Agency, Murray Energy Company of Pennsylvania had some signs printed up. They said, “STOP the WAR on COAL — FIRE OBAMA.” Minor problem…according to the Federal Election Commission, this was done close enough to the 2012 presidential election that who paid for the signs should have been disclosed on the signs themselves.
Murray Energy didn’t do that, though, and now has agreed to pay a $5,000 fine for violating federal election communications rules.
The agency found that the signs are not expressly prohibited under current campaign finance law, but Murray should have disclosed on the signs themselves who paid for them, and filed regular reports about its spending, which FEC determined was meant to sway the election fight between Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee that year.
“Because Murray Energy’s ‘STOP the WAR on COAL – FIRE OBAMA’ signs are public communications that contain express advocacy, they required a disclaimer,” FEC attorneys said in an administrative filing.
For the people out on the fruited plain who are slapping their heads and saying, “Don’t these morons who work for us have better things to do than pick on an industry that is systematically being drummed into bankruptcy and then bought up at dirt cheap prices by leftist billionaires?” this is confounding.
It’s okay to speak freely on a matter, but if there’s an election around the corner, any public messaging needs a disclaimer. Sure. That’s EXACTLY what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they passed a law that sits in the Constitution that is supposed to be applied liberally, not lightly, of just how Americans are to be able to express themselves. “Shall not be abridged.” (Please tell me this does not need a sarcasm tag.)
This isn’t the only curtailed speech story out today, and it won’t be the last where campaign finance laws are selectively applied. But it is very much salt being rubbed into the wounds of America’s middle class, and the companies that used to sustain them. The war on the little people now doesn’t even allow for total and complete free speech to confront the powers driving them out of existence.
H/T – Moonbattery