One of the more confusing bills I've read lately.

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At this time, there is a bill before Congress that will change how grassroots lobbyists are treated, namely, requiring them to register on a quarterly basis as lobbyists inside the beltway. This press release has been picked up all over the Net - just about every cause you can think of that would ask people to write in to push for things to go one way or another has noticed this bill. So many have that I had a hell of a time finding the actual text of the bill in question at the Library of Congress. Well, here's the gotcha: It'll go in 2 USC 1602, section 3, paragraph 18:

"(B) PAID ATTEMPT TO INFLUENCE THE GENERAL PUBLIC OR SEGMENTS THEREOF- The termpaid attempt to influence the general public or segments thereof' doesnot include an attempt to influence directed at less than 500 members of the general public."

Which means that any forum that reaches more than 500 people at any time is considered fair game, so long as the forum is paid by a client to speak out on some matter, or spends $25kus or more in a quarter on this effort.

The people crowing about this, now that I have a chance to think about it, are organisations that collect donations to try to bend ears in Congress. Joe and Jane average (like myself, with a website and a text editor) don't get paid to speak their minds, don't take clients, and do it on their own, so they don't seem to fall into this category.

The text of the bill is pretty dense, and very confusing. It's easy to read it either way, especially if you're multitasking and trying to do other stuff at the same time.