A spokesman for Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), emailed Betabeat this morning to request a correction on our story about the Reddit-engendered crusade against the politician. “I’m unclear on how you could derive Rep. Ryan supports SOPA from the letter you link to in the post,” spokesman Kevin Seifert wrote, referring to this letter Mr. Ryan’s office sent to a constituent who wrote in ostensibly as a supporter of the Stop Online Piracy Act. The letter does not say whether Mr. Ryan supports SOPA, just that he will follow the legislation carefully and consider the constituent’s comments if the bill were to come before him for a vote.
“Congressman Ryan provided a legislative update on the status of the proposal to inquiring constituents, he has never been a co-sponsor or supporter of this legislation,” Mr. Seifert said in an email.
Some Redditors may be under the false impression that Mr. Ryan is explicitly in favor of SOPA. But users also coalesced around the “Pull Ryan” campaign because Mr. Ryan is a prominent Republican who is vulnerable in his district in 2012 and has taken other controversial stances unpopular with the Reddit demographic including a proposal with Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) for a version of privatized Medicare.
SOPA, it would seem, is not one of Mr. Ryan’s top issues. In fact, the SOPA Track website says Mr. Ryan has taken $0 from “big media” donors who favor SOPA and does not say which way he will vote on the bill.
Mr. Ryan’s biggest problem may be that his opponent, Rob Zerban, has come out strongly against SOPA. Mr. Zerban explicitly opposed the bill as written and said he would not vote for it. “I think where it goes too far is that it allows unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names,” he said in a Q&A session on Reddit. “I recognize the need for content providers to be able to profit and benefit from their work but there needs to be a middle ground approach to this issue.”
Mr. Ryan and his spokesman, Mr. Seifert, are now frantically trying to change the impression of Mr. Ryan as a SOPA supporter. Mr. Seifert sent this statement by email:
Contrary to false reports, Congressman Paul Ryan is not a co-sponsor of H.R 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act. He remains committed to advancing policies which protect free speech and foster innovation online and will continue to follow the House Judiciary Committee’s deliberations on this issue carefully.