Glimmers of rare bipartisan consensus appeared Thursday at the Federal Election Commission, where the panel's two Republicans joined the Democratic chairwoman in proposing regulation of political advertisements online.
At least at first blush, there seemed to be plenty of room for compromise between the freshly unveiled GOP plan and the one unveiled earlier in the week by Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub.
The main disagreement looks to be whether to exempt any sorts of campaigns from having to disclose their identities.
The chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission has a plan for increasing transparency and combatting disinformation in the fast-expanding world of online political advertising.
With the 2020 campaign starting to accelerate, and ample evidence of Russian hacking in the last presidential campaign revealed by special counsel Robert Mueller, FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub is hoping to jumpstart a debate about regulating Internet campaigns that stalled in her agency last year and looks stymied in Congress as well.
The Weintraub proposal, which the commission will debate Thursday, would require any form of paid online political advertising to include a clearly displayed disclaimer about who is paying for the ad.
Last year, the FEC considered but never voted on a similar measure on Internet communication disclaimers. It received 314,000 public comments – most of them supportive. The requirements in these proposals are akin to the rules that currently exist for print, television and radio paid political advertising.
Lindsey Graham is giving a slim but firm reed to those hoping at least one democracy reform priority gets through Congress before the next election.
Like a singular crocus in a field of snow, the South Carolinian is standing out this week after agreeing to become the first Senate Republican to sponsor the Honest Ads Act, the shorthand name for legislation that would boost disclosure requirements for campaign advertising online.
Proponents of the bill are hoping support from someone who's become one of President Trump's most vocal congressional allies will herald the start of a steady build-up of GOP endorsements in the Senate.
It will take at least a dozen more Republicans coming aboard to guarantee the bill could break a filibuster led by their own leader, Mitch McConnell, who is steadfastly opposed to almost all ideas for regulating campaign spending. Even additional sunshine requirements, he says, will stifle the right to free political speech.