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Silencing dissent

Posted by Richard on October 30, 2010

Lisa Murkowski is a full-fledged member of the bipartisan ruling class that Angelo M. Codevilla described so well in his critically important American Spectator article. As such, she believes not only that she's entitled to rule, but that her subjects don't even have the right to make fun of her. Free speech be damned. 

Murkowski doesn't have access to SEIU goons to do her dirty work, so she relies on $1000/hr. lawyers to intimidate and silence her critics. On Friday, Sarah Palin told the tale on her Facebook page (emphasis added): 

Yesterday, Lisa Murkowski’s hired guns threatened radio host Dan Fagan, and more importantly, the station that airs Fagan’s show, with legal action for allegedly illegal “electioneering.” The station, unlike Murkowski, who is flush with millions of dollars from vested corporate interests, does not have a budget for a legal defense. So it did what any small market station would do when threatened by Beltway lawyers charging $500 to $1000 an hour – they pulled Dan Fagan off the air. 

Does all this sound heavy handed? It is. It is an interference with Dan Fagan’s constitutional right to free speech. It is also a shocking indictment against Lisa Murkowski. How low will she go to hold onto power? First, she gets the Division of Elections to change its write-in process – a process that Judge Pfiffner correctly determined had been in place without change for 50 years. She is accepting financial support from federal contractors, an act that is highly questionable and now pending before the FEC. And today, she played her last card. She made it clear that if you disagree with her and encourage others to exercise their civic rights, she’ll take you off the air.  

The concept of “electioneering” involves several issues, but typically refers to campaigning at the polls, which is appropriately banned. Under federal law, it can also mean paying for advertising on broadcast media during a federal election cycle, and it requires disclosures if done by groups and corporations. Fagan used satire to mock Murkowski’s write-in efforts and encouraged Alaskans to run as write-in candidates. That is not illegal. That is free speech.

Individuals like Dan Fagan have a fundamental right to speak their minds without threats from the incumbent Senator from Alaska. It is hard to find a constitutional right Americans cherish more than the right to free speech. This was a right Joe Miller, as a decorated combat veteran – a tank commander tested in battle, was willing to die to defend. Dan Fagan has not always agreed with me, but I will gladly defend his right to speak freely on his radio show, which he has often used to criticize me. In fact, Fagan has actually used his radio show to attack and insult me, my husband, my children, and my family in just about every way possible. He was especially insulting to my son, who left for a war zone to defend Fagan’s right to attack our family. But when I was his governor, I never would have dreamed of threatening his right to free speech. I support him in this fight because this D.C. Beltway thuggery, as exemplified by Lisa Murkowski’s latest threat, is ruining our country. The powers that be want ordinary Americans to sit down and shut up and let the ruling class ride us right off the debt cliff we’re heading towards with Obama, Pelosi, and Reid steering the nation’s car. We can’t let them. Now is the time to put aside our past differences and stand up to the establishment powers.

This whole episode confirms again why we need to elect Joe Miller. Lisa, you can sue me if you want (you won’t be the first). But I will not be intimidated from speaking my mind. Your intimidation just empowered us liberty-loving Alaskans. Are you really that out of touch?

Fortunately, Murkowski's thugs in pinstripes were too late. With some help from Dan Riehl's post at Big Government (which tells the story of the shameful election law subversion that led to this effort) and various bloggers, Fagan's call for more write-in candidates had the desired effect before he could be silenced. Riehl has the complete Alaska Division of Elections list of candidates for Senate and the story of how it came to be so large in a matter of hours just before the deadline.

Murkowski may have succeeded in getting election workers to distribute a list of write-in candidates to voters, but her name will be one of 148 on that list. Heh, indeed. 

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