March 19, 2023

“EMBARRASSMENT”: Newt Gingrich calls out Florida legislator for “insane” legislation

"EMBARRASSMENT": Newt Gingrich calls out Florida legislator for "insane" legislation

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Florida’s legislature has recently produced a spate of new bills that limit speech, education, and criticism of the government, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) says it has now gone too far, with a piece of legislation that would require anyone who wants to blog about Florida’s government to first register with the state.

The bill would apply to anyone who is paid to cover news matters relating to the governor and other state officials.

Even though the right to voice opinions about one’s government is at the very top of the Bill of Rights, failure to register would result in fines that could pile up quickly.

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The author of the bill claims that this will let the public know who is ‘influencing’ their elected officials, and that it’s not a free speech issue at all.

On Sunday, Gingrich, an influential Republican who has continued to offer political commentary since leaving office, responded.

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In a tweet, he said that the bill should be withdrawn and that it’s embarrassing for it to have come from his party.

He even characterized the legislation as “insane.” The tweet read:

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The idea that bloggers criticizing a politician should register with the government is insane. it is an embarrassment that it is a Republican state legislator in Florida who introduced a bill to that effect. He should withdraw it immediately.
Despite the bill being a clear regulation of speech, even including punishments to be handed down by the government for expressing views about the government, author Jason Brodeur insists it’s not about free speech at all, and that if voters oppose this, then lobbyists also shouldn’t have to register.
“What we have out there today is a system by which somebody can pay someone to write a story, publish it online, and then use that in a mail piece as a cite source when they’re making claims about an opponent….what’s the difference between a paid blogger who writes about state government, or a paid lobbyist who advocates for government?”
Brodeur seems to insist that sharing information about the government with the public is the same as using funds and influence to put pressure on government entities to make certain decisions.
You can watch his full statement here.
This comes in the wake of a number of other outrageous Florida bills, including one to abolish the Democratic Party, and one designed to limit what specific opinions can be expressed about an elected official, by designating allegations of racism and other bigotry as defamation.

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