How the GOP used social media to outsmart anti-free speech laws.

Looks like the NRCC was on the ball this cycle.

Republicans and outside groups used anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data ahead of the midterm elections, CNN has learned, a practice that raises questions about whether they violated campaign finance laws that prohibit coordination.

Translation: they probably didn’t, which CNN will concede later. Moving on…

…The groups behind the operation had a sense of humor about what they were doing. One Twitter account was named after Bruno Gianelli, a fictional character in The West Wing who pressed his colleagues to use ethically questionable “soft money” to fund campaigns.

A typical tweet read: “CA-40/43-44/49-44/44-50/36-44/49-10/16/14-52–>49/476-10s.” The source said posts like that — which would look like gibberish to most people — represented polling data for various House races.

Classic Purloined Letter technique. If the Democrats had known what accounts to look at, they could have gotten the GOP’s coveted internal polling – the real stuff; the stuff that the parties guard like a dragon guards its hoard – and then used that data to wreak great evil. But they did not, no doubt to their public fury and private shame. It’s unfortunately a trick that can be done only once; but then, the best shenanigans always are.

As for the ethics involved… look at the title. When it comes to the First Amendment and free speech: what part of Congress shall make no law is unclear? I mean, I understand that some fetishists out there have this elaborate mythology set up, complete with the convenient devil figure Dark Campaign Money*. But then, there are fetishists out there who are into clown porn; I don’t really feel obligated to take them too seriously, either. The bottom line is: out in the real world, as long as the government remains this giant behemoth that can seemingly-randomly crush any one individual person, group, organization, or demographic designation without even meaning to do so, people are going to want to get as much influence as possible over where the behemoth falls down.

That means that people take elections seriously; and so will be interested in supporting candidates who will advance said people’s favored policies. And one of the best ways to support a candidate is to give him or her money, because the money pays for the microphone that gets out the message. This is why ‘campaign finance reform**’ is so …read more    

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