Local Paper Hates Freedom

Newspaper Fail A quick recap: The Free State Project (FSP) is an endeavor to get 20,000 "liberty-loving" people to move to New Hampshire. The stated intent is to have them "work within the political system to reduce the size and scope of government."

Last December, NH State Representative (Democrat) Cynthia Chase deemed Free Staters "the single biggest threat the state is facing today" and advocated establishing an "unwelcoming" environment for them. Cynthia's intolerant comments made waves even outside of New Hampshire, getting attention from Matt Welch at Reason, Warner Todd Huston at Big Government, and Fox News's Brett Baier.

Which brings me to the editorial antics of my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat. Although they've never shown any interest in covering the FSP in their news pages, they've published three FSP-trashing editorials so far this year.

The first, on January 8 warned ominously that the FSP was "co-opting our way of life". While barely criticizing Chase's invective as "inopportune", the editorialist condemned the FSP as being "surreptitious" (without providing a single example), and leaned heavily on us-vs.-the-outsiders demagoguery.

The second came after some FSP wags sent Cynthia Chase a lovely bouquet, thanking her for the free publicity. The humor-impaired editorialist tsk-tsked: the FSP, he said, "had some growing up to do."

And then, finally, yesterday: "Cat is out of the bag ... for sure", the headline read. The editorialist had found a smoking gun! Where? Why, in the words of Carla Gericke, the FSP President! (As reported in the Union Leader, because as previously stated, Foster's has shown no interest in covering the FSP in its own news pages.) The issue is how soon it will take for the FSP to reach its 20,000-person pledge goal.

Based on the current recruiting rate, Gericke said, the pledge total would hit 20,000 in 2018, triggering the large-scale move to New Hampshire. Under that scenario, the goal would be to have all pledgers relocate by 2023.

However, Gericke said she does not want to wait until she is 51 years old to trigger the move.

"I want to do it in the next two years," she said, explaining the only way to accelerate the move is to begin major fundraising efforts and secure sponsors to help raise about $270,000 - a figure she believes could make the move feasible.

Uh, so what's so nefarious about that? The Foster's editorialist knows:

If the goal of 20,000 members by 2015 sounds suspicious, it should. That would be in time for a next full presidential election cycle, which would include not only state offices but most of the state's congressional delegation.

Whoa. I hope you were sitting down for the revelation of that bit of news.

Now, how silly is this, really? When the FSP hits the 20K pledge mark, that is supposed to start the five-year window during which the signers are supposed to move to New Hampshire. (How many will actually do that is anyone's guess, but I would bet: fewer than 20K.)

But the Foster's "suspicious" editorialist imagines the dark future of 2015 when 20,000 Free Staters show up all at once and … do what, exactly? Well, worst case: "work within the political system to reduce the size and scope of government." You know, exactly as their Statement of Intent states.

[Just to be clear: I'm not a Free Stater, having moved to NH when Jason Sorens was about 8 years old. But, heck, I wish all 20,000 of them were here today.]

The Foster's editorialist also makes a big deal about the FSP's stated desire to organize itself under the IRS's 501(c)(3) rules. He is, in fact, aghast:

But a 501c3 is a nonprofit that under the Internal Revenue Code, "may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates."

I have no opinion on whether the FSP should organize as a 501(c)(3), but in fact a lot of advocacy groups do so, perfectly legally: examples include Planned Parenthood, the National Rifle Association, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, People for the American Way Foundation, etc.

It's a mixed blessing that Foster's news reporting on the FSP is nearly non-existent. If it were as transparently lame and grudge-driven as its editorials, it would certainly be an easy target for a blogger to make fun of.

Last Modified 2013-06-19 1:28 PM EDT