Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Government The Internet United States Your Rights Online

Florida Congressman Wants Blogging Critic Fined, Jailed 549

Posted by timothy
from the gov't-we-deserve-is-a-canard dept.
vvaduva writes "Florida Rep. Alan Grayson wants to see one of his critics go directly to jail, all over her use of the word 'my' on her blog. In a four-page letter sent to [US Attorney General Eric] Holder, Grayson accuses blogger Angie Langley of lying to federal elections officials and requests that she be fined and imprisoned for five years. Her lie, according to Grayson, is that she claims to be one of his constituents. Langley, Grayson says, is misrepresenting herself by using the term 'my' in the Web site's name."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Florida Congressman Wants Blogging Critic Fined, Jailed

Comments Filter:
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:28PM (#30526326) Journal
    I am not a lawyer. From the letter [foxnews.com] the complaint seems to be divided into two parts (note that "the Committee" refers directly to MyCongressmanIsNuts.com):

    As explained below, Ms. Langley and the Committee falsely represented to the Federal Election Commission that the Committee "supports or opposes more than one candidate." In fact, however, the committee name corresponds to a website that attacks me and only me, while soliciting contributions to be used against only me. Moreover, Ms. Langley has falsely depicted herself as a constituent, in order to further this scheme.

    Although you may claim it's just another stupid technicality that Florida Rep. Alan Grayson clings to in order to shut down a website that is probably too painfully close to the truth for his comfort, there is another complaint other than the use of the word 'my.' Now, if you visit the about us page [mycongressmanisnuts.com] on the committee in question's site you can find:

    Central Floridians formed My Congressman Is Nuts PAC as a response to the outrage and embarrassment within Central Florida over Alan Grayson's liberal positions and childish approach in Washington, D.C. We could no longer sit by and accept his inappropriate behavior and leftist big government agenda. He does not represent the values of Central Florida.

    Emphasis mine. Now a key part to the argument is that since it is a PAC with pac registration [fec.gov], it receives taxation status benefits from the government making it subject to the law of United States Code Title 18 Section 1001 [cornell.edu].

    I mean, he might have a case here if that US code applies to PACs. I'm not sure. Were I in his shoes, I would have instead taken the angle of attack related to the title line of the site which is "Alan Grayson is Nuts" and proven that I am not legally insane. Actually, I wouldn't have done anything. As Barbara Streisand might have pointed out that before this news I had never heard of nor visited My Congressman Is Nuts but now I have scanned the entire site out of curiosity.

  • Re:Cliffs Notes (Score:4, Informative)

    by smitty777 (1612557) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:39PM (#30526536) Journal

    Not that it doesn't belong here, but this is less tech story and more a human story.

    I agree with you. But one interesting (somewhat) relevant aspect of this article is the fact that it was online. Does it make a difference that it was a blog? Would he have any different legal footing if she had said this on television or on the radio? The web version certainly does leave a quite tangible trace of the "crime". Finally, if anything becomes of this, will it set a precedent? These are certainly interesting topics to explore.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot&hackish,org> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:46PM (#30526652)

    Lying in a political context is hard to prosecute, unless it rises to the level of libel, which has a pretty high bar for public officials, and an even higher bar for political speech about public officials.

    Lying on forms filed with the government is illegal, though, under a blanket "don't lie to the government" law. The jail part of the complaint seems to be for allegedly misrepresenting the PAC on the filing documents with the FEC: the filed documents claim the PAC isn't aimed at any particular opponent, but the website clearly is aimed at one opponent.

  • Re:Oh, the irony (Score:1, Informative)

    by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:48PM (#30526674)
    She's not a blogger but a former republican party official trying to raise funds to unseat Grayson.

    Unfortunately, she is doing it in a fraudulent way which could be in violation of the law and land her in jail.

    It's a pity when facts get in the way of a good story.
  • Re:I call bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot&hackish,org> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:51PM (#30526722)

    If you prefer, this [orlandosentinel.com] and this [cfnews13.com] predate the Fox story by several days.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:58PM (#30526856)

    I know Fox makes it sounds like some DEMOCRAT wants a CONSERVATIVE web site taken down because they used the word "my", but thats simply not true.

    The letter was written to claim that Ms Langley requested permission to create a non-partisan voter education committee for her district. However, the webpage that represents this committee is clearly not bipartisan and falsely claims to originate from the district in question. It is illegal and considered tax fraud to do this.

    I really hope I don't find many more headline stories that are from Fox's falsification/opinionation version of news. I like slashdot.

  • Re:Oh, the irony (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fallingcow (213461) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @03:00PM (#30526882) Homepage

    My understanding of the situation (from the discussion of this same story on Fark a day or two ago) is that the main charge isn't even misrepresenting where she lives; it's telling the FEC that her PAC raises money for many candidates while actually only raising money for one, which lets her get around donation limits.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @03:09PM (#30527044)
    Langley criticizes Grayson on her Web site for his "inappropriate behavior" and "childish approach" toward governing, and claims he "does not represent the values of central Florida." Grayson has pretty much made her case for her with this inappropriate and childish attack on her web site. The term "Streisand Effect" also comes to mind. I hope mycongressmanisnuts.com carries advertising, 'cause this dick move is going to drive a metric shitload of traffic to the site!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @03:11PM (#30527084)

    The PAC consists of three members. She isn't in the district, but the other two are in the district meaning she is in the minority.

  • by Virak (897071) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @03:14PM (#30527114) Homepage

    Here you go [slashdot.org].

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @03:15PM (#30527140)

    At first glance it appears that a Democratic congressman is suing a blogger for using "my" in the name of her website because she really isn't his constituent. Is this all there is to this story? Bear in mind, the only source I've found is Fox News which isn't exactly balanced reporting (if any of them are). From the story: "In a four-page letter sent to Holder, Grayson accuses Langley of lying to federal elections and requests that she be fined and imprisoned for five years." So what I can tell Langley had been questioned by some sort of official. Grayson says she lied. So her crime might be she lied to some officials about where she lived which isn't a high crime but is a crime.

    Here's what I think went down: Grayson gets attacked on her site. He investigates the site to know whether it is by a PAC or an independent blogger. If it's a PAC there are various disclosures that must be done. Officials question Langley. Grayson thinks she lied about her constituency at least (and maybe other things like her independence). So he asks for legal action. Fox is spinning it to be more sensational than it is for ratings.

  • by TheDarAve (513675) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @03:19PM (#30527192)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_action_committee

    "In the United States, a Political Action Committee, or PAC, is the name commonly given to a private group, regardless of size, organized to elect political candidates. Legally, what constitutes a "PAC" for purposes of regulation is a matter of state and federal law. Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, an organization becomes a "political committee" by receiving contributions or making expenditures in excess of $1,000 for the purpose of influencing a federal election."

    This appears to be EXACLY what they're doing, but don't let the facts hit you in the ass. Sorry, no matter how you try to twist it, its still a political OP-ED site just like the other million of them out there trying to influence so many other votes one way or the other. This is just targetted at a specific congressman instead of a specific bill.

  • by chris mazuc (8017) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @03:37PM (#30527520)

    You can read the Statement of Organization on the FEC's website [nictusa.com]. Note that Grayson has accused Mycongressmanisnuts.com of checking box f instead of box c, thus misrepresenting the function of their PAC and violating the law [cornell.edu]. Additionally Grayson has alleged the PAC is in fact a connected committee due to her status as the former head of the Lake County Republican Party. They will haul you away if you file your taxes improperly, and this isn't any different. The FEC even gives you a guide [fec.gov] to filling out the paperwork, which believe it or not is actually pretty simple for the relevant form.

    The applicable instructions read as follows:

    Line 5. Type of CommitteeCheck box (f) if the committee supports or opposes more than one federal candidate. Box (c) applies if the committee supports or opposes only one candidate. (These are the only boxes on Line 5 applicable to nonconnected committees.)

    I think the problem they would have here is demonstrating intent. Nevermind the political idiocy of it. I think that filing the complaint was ok, but specifically asking for jail time was a bit much in my opinion.

  • by Grimbleton (1034446) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @03:42PM (#30527624)

    My grandmother was a government employee her entire life. Worked until she was 58 and health issues made her retire.

    She gets $76 a month from Social Security.

    I can't see her being much worse off with privatized SS.

  • Re:Streisand.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Zeelan (533372) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @03:44PM (#30527678) Homepage
    I'm all for you on freedom of speech but, when you dig into this it isn't about censorship or freedom of speech but about how her PAC is formed. She is claiming on the site that she is representing her views of her congress critter, and the site is all about Grayson who isn't. The PAC also is only working on raising money to remove him from office while the PAC was formed under a more general license. Meaning that Angie Langley can bypass campaign financing laws and collect more money then the law would allow. There are a lot of laws on the books now about PACs and there will probable be even more, and some of them are on the books because of massive abuses done by PACs. (They don't have too account for every dollar they get, unlimited donation.) On the flipside as a PAC you have signed away some of your rights to Free Speech to get the tax exempt status. From what I can see from digging into it, Angie Langley, is basicly running a generalized PAC, while specifically targeting Grayson and representing herself as one of his constituents to Federal Elections. So basically committing election fraud with a slice of corruption. Just the kind of thing that people don't like. Anyway, just reading more into it sense the headline is so wonderfully catchy.
  • by ravenshrike (808508) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @03:59PM (#30527952)

    *blinks* Do you mean if we had privatized SocSec from the start and invested evenly in the Dow? Much, much, much, much better off. Or do you mean if we had gone with Bush's plan? In which case the answer would be nobody who could accept Bush's plan would currently be receiving SocSec because his plan had a cut-off age to start it and nobody over that age could participate, which means no one currently drawing SocSec would have a privatized plan.

  • Re:Cliffs Notes (Score:3, Informative)

    by snowgirl (978879) * on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:10PM (#30528150) Journal

    Not that it doesn't belong here, but this is less tech story and more a human story.

    I agree with you. But one interesting (somewhat) relevant aspect of this article is the fact that it was online. Does it make a difference that it was a blog? Would he have any different legal footing if she had said this on television or on the radio? The web version certainly does leave a quite tangible trace of the "crime". Finally, if anything becomes of this, will it set a precedent? These are certainly interesting topics to explore.

    Actually, the "crime" here is that she organized a PAC with legal status with the FEC in order to solicit funds to defeat Grayson in the next election. Only, PACs must endorse more than one candidate or be against more than one candidate.

    The reason the word "my" comes into play here is that she is not one of his constituents although she is soliciting money and funds from people under the misrepresentation that she is.

    This isn't about whether Grayson is trying to censor opposing viewpoints, this is about if she, or the PAC materially committed fraud.

    When I saw that this article was on foxnews.com it immediately raised my skept-o-meter into thinking that there is more to this story than was presented. And of course it suits Fox New's agenda to skim over the part where she's collecting money in a potentially fraudulent manner.

  • by Kirijini (214824) <kirijini.yahoo@com> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:34PM (#30528512)

    It isn't ad-hominem if it's true.

    Yes it is. [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Joke (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @05:39PM (#30529488)

    No, basically everything he's said is about right. You're just too fucking stupid to see it, evidenced by the fact that you're dumb enough to take a fox news story at face value. Here, let me spell it out for your dumb fucking ass: The 'My' part is only relevant because the site in question is operated by a PAC group which has to file papers with the FEC. On said papers the PAC *LIED* and claimed to be a constituent of Alan Grayson. But hey, don't let reality get in the way of your gibbering nonsense, you stupid fucking redneck.

  • by dachshund (300733) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @06:09PM (#30529882)

    I think it's high time we started shunning both parties and voting for independent. Both parties are corporate vetted.

    Since our winner-take-all system is fundamentally rigged against third parties, voting for an independent just makes it that much cheaper and easier for corporations to get their way. Good for you. As a side bonus, it ensures that the party you like least is more likely to win.

  • by ZaMoose (24734) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @06:16PM (#30529972)

    Technically, since Harry Reid DID say precisely that [foxnews.com] after Grayson entered Congress, your statement is true.

    To wit:

    "Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, 'slow down, stop everything, let's start over.' If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right," Reid said Monday. "When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said 'slow down, it's too early, things aren't bad enough.'"

    He continued: "When women spoke up for the right to speak up, they wanted to vote, some insisted they simply, slow down, there will be a better day to do that, today isn't quite right.

    "When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today."

  • by LandDolphin (1202876) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @06:38PM (#30530246)
    How were republicans responsible for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

    From Wikipedia:
    By party
    The original House version:[9]

    Democratic Party: 152-96 (61%-39%)
    Republican Party: 138-34 (80%-20%)
    Cloture in the Senate:[10]

    Democratic Party: 44-23 (66%-34%)
    Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)
    The Senate version:[9]

    Democratic Party: 46-21 (69%-31%)
    Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)
    The Senate version, voted on by the House:[9]

    Democratic Party: 153-91 (63%-37%)
    Republican Party: 136-35 (80%-20%)

    The republicans had a high % to vote for it, but the Democrats had higher numbers voting for it than rebulicans.

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by both parties from the "North" and faught by both parties from the "south"
  • by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @09:43PM (#30531786)

    IIRC, it was actually the democratic party that opposed banning slavery, with democrats being the "conservatives" of the time and the republicans being the agents of change

    Actually, to be more accurate, it was the Southern portion of the Democratic party that was against Abolition. At that time, and basically up to the time of various Civil Rights legislation, the Democratic Party tried to be a national party. It was the civil rights legislation, along with things like Strom Thurmond's (in)famous speech upon leaving the Democratic Party to form the Dixiecrats, that largely change the Democratic Party into a regional (Northern) party.

    The Republican Party, under Lincoln, was a regional party in the North. It was only later that they became a regional party in the South.

  • by Roblimo (357) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:22PM (#30531960) Homepage Journal

    Not if she was a federal employee since before 1984. She paid into the federal retirement system, not SS. There are some partial payment criteria that may be in play here. For example, she may get some little bit of SS disability. But this can get complicated and I don't know enough to talk about it.

  • by fedos (150319) <allen DOT bouchard AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:05AM (#30535254) Homepage
    IIRC, the death panel thing started With Sarah Palin on her blog (Facebook?). I always find it ironic becuase while the Republican astroturfers are ranting about fictitious government death panels, we currently have a system of what could be considered corporate death panels. I wonder why they don't think those are at least as bad.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

Working...