This little article had many poli-bloggers apoplectic this week. It appears the FEC (pursuant to the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance "Law") wants to start counting blog links to political campaign websites against the $2000 donation limit. Bradley Smith of the FEC says:
The real question is: Would a link to a candidate's page be a problem? If someone sets up a home page and links to their favorite politician, is that a contribution? This is a big deal, if someone has already contributed the legal maximum, or if they're at the disclosure threshold and additional expenditures have to be disclosed under federal law.
I say "fine". Let 'em try to do it.
Aside from the problem of providing a valuation of a given link, the law of unintended consequences has assumed the form of the Sword of Damocles that is dangling over the head of the IRS.
Because you know what is coming: if the Feds wish to characterize a hyperlink as an in kind contribution for campaign finance purposes, then it really can't justify disallowing tax deductions for links to charitable organizations (so called "501(c)'s").
For those of you that listen to the Nick Coleman Show for his insight, "in kind" means that you donate stuff instead of money.
I am guessing that the valuation of a blogger's link will be determined by some formula based on the amount of traffic that blog has, and the percentage of that traffic that typically clicks through to sites promoted by that blog. Therefore, if each hyperlink from the Kool Aid Report to, say, the Joe Moonbat for President campaign fund were worth one dollar [LearnedFoot pauses to allow the laughter to abate], then why wouldn't a KAR hyperlink to the United Way also be worth a dollar? And if that link has a value as an in kind contribution by virtue of my pointing traffic (and other people's dollars) toward that charity, by the FEC's reasoning, each one dollar hyperlink should be deductible.
This is the mess that will ensue if the FEC goes through with this idea. So I might as well get cracking on my charitable contributions:
Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Cha-ching.