E-mail hoax makes it into New York Senate debate
By Matt Smith/CNN
NEW YORK (CNN) -- It was an odd-sounding question in Sunday's New York Senate debate between first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rep. Rick Lazio, but it bore a ring of authority: How do you stand on "federal bill 602-P?"
Both were against the measure, which purportedly would allow the federal government to bill e-mail users 5 cents for each e-mail sent.
But neither needs to worry too much about it becoming law. The question was a hoax submitted among questions taken online by debate host WCBS television.
Rep. Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Republican who sits on the House Commerce Committee, has said false reports of such a federal bill are widespread on the Internet. The reports typically name a sponsor, "Congressman Schnell," and a vehicle for how the money would be collected by the U.S. Postal Service.
"The fact of the matter is that there is no such congressman, and bills are not named in this fashion," Tauzin warns readers on his congressional Web site. "Officials with the U.S. Postal Service have stated that they would never contemplate such legislation, nor would they support this legislation."
Just to be sure, however, Tauzin's office says legislation has been introduced in the House to prevent any such measure from being imposed. And for their parts, both New York Senate candidates found the idea unappetizing.
"Based on your description ... I wouldn't vote for that bill. It sounds burdensome and not justifiable to me," Clinton, the Democratic nominee, said.
Lazio, her Republican rival, was firmly against such an idea as well.
"This is an example of the government's greedy hand in trying to take money from taxpayers that, frankly, it has no right to. We need to keep the government's hands off the Internet," he said.