The Federal Election Commission today released a draft "advisory opinion" that would, if adopted, effectively silence SpeechNow.org, a new independent speech group that wishes to advocate for or against federal candidates on the basis of their support for free political speech.
The draft opinion asserts that SpeechNow.org and any similar groups must organize and register as "political committees" and may not accept contributions larger than $5,000 per person per calendar year. The opinion would for the first time explicitly extend the full array of federal campaign finance regulations to groups of individual citizens acting independently of candidates and parties without corporate or union support.
"This opinion would leave practically no room for Americans to exercise our First Amendment rights to join together and speak freely to other Americans about who to elect to office," said David Keating, president of SpeechNow.org.
More after the jump.