A new plan proposed in Congress would establish that every American is a “citizen-lobbyist” and force executive branch officials to record and publish all contacts with them, virtually eliminating the free exchange of ideas needed for open representative government, say critics.
The “Executive Branch Reform Act,” or H.R. 984, filed by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has been endorsed by the Committee of Government Oversight and Reform 20-0 and continues to advance in the U.S. House.
Records show it would impose vast new requirements on executive branch officials to keep track of the names of citizens who contact them, and the subjects of any conversations, so that information could be compiled four times a year and published for all the world to see.
“In Waxman’s brave new world, Joe Q. Citizen is no longer viewed as a welcome source of input to the federal government,” said Rev. Ted Pike, of Truth Tellers. “Rather, only Waxman and select colleagues, primarily in Congress, the intelligence community, and the military, are allowed to communicate freely with one another.
Rev. Ted Pike, of the National Prayer Network
“The common American is viewed as a potential source of unhealthy opinions (i.e., grass-roots lobbying efforts),” he said.
The plan follows by only weeks a different proposal, Section 220 of the Senate’s Lobby Reform bill, which was attacking free speech at the other end of the spectrum.
That plan would have required organizations that do grass-roots work, encouraging constituents to contact Washington about its latest plans and actions, to do the paperwork. But after its intent was publicized, the very grass-roots activism that it sought to crush rose up and triggered its defeat.
It would have required any organizations making grass-roots contacts to document phone calls, personal visits, e-mails, magazines, broadcasts, phone banks, appearances, travel, fund-raising for government tabulation, verification and audits.
Officials said it would have virtually eliminated the ability of organizations to publicize Washington actions and encourage citizens to comment.
Now Pike has concluded that the new bill is “just as sinister.”
It would “bring the democratic process to a crawl, not just on the grass-roots level but at its furthest extreme, among more than 9,000 employees of the executive branch of government.”
“Because of such potential ‘corruption’ of federal officials by heartland America, H.R. 984 will require all members of the executive branch to keep records of every call from concerned citizens,” Pike said.
“Such federal employees must even keep records of conversations during work or at a bar after work or even from their spouses in bed – input which might be construed as desiring to influence national policy. These records must include names, date, and detailed information about the content of each conversation.”
“The federal government will then take this data and publish it for the world to see. This, Waxman contends, is ‘openness in government,’” Pike said.
But in reality, “H.R. 984 means the government, which should be responsive to free petition, comment and criticism from the American people, will find its paperwork obligations so burdensome that the only way to govern will be by isolation from the public.”
He said, “This sinister legislation demolishes free exchange between citizens and those who govern, helping create a ‘big brother’ police state. The government will know everything about us while we would be afraid to raise our heads in comment or protest for fear of even greater federal control over our lives.”
“It is vital NOW to call the House member from your district, plus as many other House members as possible …,” Pike said. “Give them the following message: ‘Please do not pass Rep. Waxman’s bill H.R. 984, which requires executive branch officials to report all their conversations with concerned Americans. This violates our First Amendment rights as well as the right of petition.’”
The National Right to Life said the new plan simply would make government officials unlikely to be willing to listen to voter concerns.
“It would no longer be possible for a private citizen or representative of a group of private citizens to enjoy any degree of privacy when they send a communication on a policy matter to a government official, because the official will be required to report the contact,” the analysis of the issue said.
“Once this is generally understood, many citizens will become more reluctant to exercise their constitutional right to petition as freely as they did before,” the group said. “Another predictable effect would be to enhance the already considerable influence wielded by congressional committee chairmen such as Chairman Waxman – an influence often exercised entirely outside of the public eye. Contacts from Congressman Waxman or from any of his scores of staff persons are exempted by H.R. 984…”
“Congressman Waxman wants to sell his bill as an expansion of ‘government in the sunshine’ – but what he really wants is the political equivalent of a tanning salon: a structure in which Executive Branch officials would be isolated from the real world, and then exposed to intense, artificial, and unhealthy radiation generated by privileged inside players such as himself.”
James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family Action earlier this year had interrupted his regular broadcast schedule to alert people to the Section 220 provision.
When it fell by the wayside, he said, “The big winners in this battle are the American people. Getting rid of the onerous grass-roots lobbying restrictions in S.1 is a triumph of the representative form of government our Founding Fathers established 230 years ago.”
As WND has reported, Pike and his Truth Tellers also have been involved in monitoring for proposals in Congress that would create hate speech crimes in the United States, and he’s working to notify people about those.
Activists note that under such laws in Canada and France both, legislators have been fined for publicly criticizing homosexuality. Three years ago, a Swedish hate crimes law was used to put Pastor Ake Green, who preached that homosexuality is a sin, in jail for a month.
Pike said America’s justice system requires proof of physical tangible damage before an arrest, but such proposals – including the one that is pending, H.R. 254 — would change that. “It seeks to establish a different ‘bias motivation’ justice system, which will be defined in courts by judges, as has happened in Canada.”
“Judges will establish legal precedents – precedents that protect groups such as homosexuals not only from physical bias-motivated violence but also from ‘verbal violence,’” Pike warned. “This will include the ‘hate speech’ of Bible-believing evangelical Christians.
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