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Government The Almighty Buck Politics

Congressmen Who Lobbied FCC Against Net Neutrality & Received Payoff 192

Posted by Soulskill
from the only-your-best-interests-at-heart dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica published an article Friday highlighting the results from research conducted by a money-in-politics watchdog regarding the 28 congressmen who sent a combined total of three letters to the FCC protesting against re-classifying the internet as a public utility. These 28 members of the U.S. House of Representatives 'received, on average, $26,832 from the "cable & satellite TV production & distribution" sector over a two-year period ending in December. According to the data, that's 2.3 times more than the House average of $11,651.' That's average. Actual amounts that the 28 received over a two year period ranged from $109,250 (Greg Walden, R-OR) to $0 (Nick Rahall, D-WV). Look at the list yourselves, and find your representative to determine how much legitimacy can be attributed to their stated concerns for the public."
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Congressmen Who Lobbied FCC Against Net Neutrality & Received Payoff

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @02:53PM (#47027259)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746

    • Pretty much (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rsilvergun (571051) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @03:14PM (#47027397)
      one of the nasty parts of our history they don't teach is that large sections of our Constitution and the basis of our Representative government were designed to keep poor people from voting themselves the land that the wealthy had already claimed. It's all right there is books and documents from the time. There really wasn't any reason to hide it since if you were literate you were probably rich.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Remember: http://www.wolf-pac.com/ [wolf-pac.com]
        Move your ass, do something.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          I really think this is an over reaction. Basically the idea is to put a cap on the amount of picket signs and billboards people can put up based on an arbitrary dollar figure. Dollars do not win elections. Look at the John Morse campaign in Colorado...I mean they spent what, 11 times what the opposition spent? Yet they still lost. Sorry but I think the first amendment is much too important of a thing to forsake just because you don't like how much money some person spent on a campaign.

          The wolf-pac proposal

          • Re:Pretty much (Score:5, Interesting)

            by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @04:35PM (#47027951)

            I actually look at what money candidates receive and who paid it. If the people lavishing money on them are my enemy then I tend to vote for the other candidate. All too often though the other candidate is also taking big payouts from the same bastards. It's hard to win when both candidates are bought.

          • Re:Pretty much (Score:4, Informative)

            by knightghost (861069) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @05:55PM (#47028341)

            Dollars do not win elections.

            IMHO that statement is 100% false and the example is a cherry picked outlier. Dollars are by far the most important thing in an election - especially the bigger elections. They pay for strategy and marketing to craft the proper lie then buy commercials to brainwash the populace.

            • Re:Pretty much (Score:5, Informative)

              by guises (2423402) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @06:14PM (#47028447)
              According to Politifact, it's only mostly false [politifact.com]. The candidate who spends the most money wins 80+% of the time (98% for the house in 2004), but exactly how often they win varies by election.
          • by rtb61 (674572)

            Campaign donations do win US primaries because only a small percentage of the eligible public participates say between 10 and 20%. This enables stacking of elections, where all candidates standing for election have already been bought off. Now add this to off shore tax haven payments where corrupted politicians collect their bribes with luxury holidays and high value 'er' souvenirs and you have the complete corruption package all properly legalised by corrupt governments.

            Extra campaign contributions and

      • Re:Pretty much (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ArmoredDragon (3450605) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @04:00PM (#47027675)

        I don't think it was intended to protect the wealthy so much as it was intended to protect against mob mentality. Even in cases where it protects land you own, you didn't have to be wealthy to own land.

        The most important thing was that they didn't like (and indeed just escaped from) a situation where lords and kings could just take anything you owned at any time they wanted because it was their "divine right." They certainly didn't want to replace that with a new government that was every bit as capable of doing the same thing, otherwise what the fuck was the point? Whether people voted you away from your land, or a king just demanded you relinquish it, is ultimately the same kind of injustice.

        Just because "the people" want it, doesn't make it any more right. Remember that "the people" also supported slavery, indeed certain items like California Prop 8 won with a majority of voters.

        • The most important thing was that they didn't like (and indeed just escaped from) a situation where lords and kings could just take anything you owned at any time they wanted because it was their "divine right." They certainly didn't want to replace that with a new government that was every bit as capable of doing the same thing, otherwise what the fuck was the point? Whether people voted you away from your land, or a king just demanded you relinquish it, is ultimately the same kind of injustice.

          Instead we have eminent domain, which is effectively the same thing.

          • Re:Pretty much (Score:5, Insightful)

            by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @07:09PM (#47028679)

            Instead we have eminent domain, which is effectively the same thing.

            Civil forfeiture is even more terrifying.

          • There are certain cases of eminent domain that I'll accept. For example, a while back the city wanted to reclaim some of the property that my dad's business was sitting on because they needed to make the road wider. They were paying less than what I think it was worth, but I could understand it because that road was tiny for how much traffic it carried. But outright taking your entire property and then giving you the finger...not just no, but hell no.

        • by dryeo (100693)

          Maybe I'm just showing my lack of history but I thought the American colonies were British, you know, the country that beheaded one King for insisting in the divine right of Kings and then gave the boot to his son who also thought he had a "divine right". This was in 1688 that Parliament asserted themselves as supreme, passed the Bill of Rights of 1689, changed the Monarchs Oath to reflect the new reality and invited a Dutch man and his wife, the Kings daughter to rule on the understanding that Parliament c

        • They certainly didn't want to replace that with a new government that was every bit as capable of doing the same thing, otherwise what the fuck was the point?

          Hello new boss, same as the old boss... But WE'RE the new bosses, so it's all good. Read your history books further back than the 1700's.

        • I don't think it was intended to protect the wealthy so much as it was intended to protect against mob mentality. Even in cases where it protects land you own, you didn't have to be wealthy to own land.

          The telling part is not where it protects land, but rather where pretty much all states had property ownership requirements to be able to vote.

          And the definition of "wealthy" is, of course, subjective; but the numbers are rather telling. In Rhode Island, for example, which retained property requirement longest of all the states, by the end of it, 60% of the state's white male population was excluded on that basis.

      • Cultural Literacy (Score:5, Informative)

        by westlake (615356) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @06:21PM (#47028467)

        Large sections of our Constitution and the basis of our Representative government were designed to keep poor people from voting themselves the land that the wealthy had already claimed... There really wasn't any reason to hide it since if you were literate you were probably rich.

        A dangerous assumption to make.

        In 1776, one book, written in complex language, sold over 120,000 copies in Colonial America.

        First convert 120,000 into a fraction of the U.S. population in 1776: compared to the population at the time of 2.5 million, 120,000 is roughly 1 in 20, or 5%. Today's U.S. population is about 300 million --- of which 5% is 15 million.

        Fifteen million copies today! More surprisingly, Common Sense by Thomas Paine sold this equivalent in just three months. In its first year, it sold 500,000 copies, or 20% of the colonial population.

        Today's equivalent is 60 million copies.

        Were Colonial Americans More Literate than Americans Today? [freakonomics.com]. ''Every Man Able to Read'' [history.org]

        In the late colonial and early federal era, disputes over land ownership centered on the opening of the western frontiers to settlement and the abolition of feudal tenures. The Last Patroon [newnetherl...titute.org]

        The Library of America's two volume "The Debate on the Constitution" can be found in most public libraries.

        For Americans this is Shakespeare, and more. Not only is it wonderful writing, it is wonderful thinking. -- Nina Totenberg, National Public Radio

    • by tlambert (566799)

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746

      They're using the wrong word. It's a Plutocracy, not an Oligarchy.

      • Excuse me, how exactly is plutocracy not an oligarchy?
        • by tlambert (566799) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @02:16AM (#47030175)

          An Oligarchy does not necessarily mean that the wealthy control the government; it can also apply to dynastic rulership by families on the basis of something other than wealth, e.g. as in Feudalism, or it could be a combination of factors, not always involving wealth.

          The study referred to specifically called out wealth as the overriding factor in control, which makes it a Plutocracy.

          You can see from the wikipedia article on Oligarchy that it's a quite inexact term for what they are talking about:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O... [wikipedia.org]

          "Forms of government and other political structures associated with oligarchy can include aristocracy, meritocracy, military junta, plutocracy, stratocracy, technocracy, theocracy and timocracy."

          For a supposedly academic study, you'd think they would be a little less loose with their definitions, particularly when they are counter to the conclusions they have reached, under some circumstances. For example, I don't think under any stretch of the imagination could we say that the government of the U.S. was a Theocracy, Technocracy, or Military Junta. Indeed, we can say that it went from a Timocracy to a Plutocracy about the time corporations gained citizenship, and dollars were ruled to be equivalent to speech by the U.S. Supreme Court.

          • So you're basically confirming what I was alluding to, i.e., that every plutocracy is an oligarchy, just like every car is a motor vehicle, therefore, the original article isn't incorrect.
  • by Enry (630) <enryNO@SPAMwayga.net> on Saturday May 17, 2014 @02:53PM (#47027265) Journal

    I'm in the healthcare and higher education industry, but my beliefs don't always match that of my employers. While I can understand employees of a company may want to keep their business going, I consider it a far cry from actual lobbyists or company executives doing the same.

    • by hey! (33014)

      Well, you've never been in a position where your employer *required* you to attend fundraisers. Your views have nothing to do with it; your continued employment does.

      In effect this is money laundering, but it occurs at a management level where nobody wants to rock the boat because the pay is so good.

    • On the other hand, employees are more likely to send money to sympathetic candidates.

      If everyone in Cable gives to a cable-friendly candidate, and everyone in pharma gives to pharma-friendly candidates, the end result is going to be a large number of donations on the side of those who support it.

      No one reports when the pro candidate got less money than the anti candidate... I expect it happens a lot, just because of this fact:

      We are talking about a difference of $15k, per candidate, on an election that cost

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @02:53PM (#47027267)

    make it illegal.

    • While that sounds nice, the problem with it is what happens when *I*, Joe Consumer, wants to lobby my own Congressman on an issue that concerns me?

      Am I not allowed to tell him/her what I want done on by behalf?

      • by mellon (7048)

        That argument would make more sense if it were the case right now that you have the same access as a lobbyist. The point the OP is making is that if I ask you do to X, and pay you Y, that could be seen as bribery. If I just ask you to do X, and don't pay you, that's not bribery.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @03:22PM (#47027461)

        As long as your lobbying doesn't include giving money or favours, fine. Lobbying should amount to a written letter explaining your reasoning for changes in law and how they benefit society.

        • Mod parent up insightful. Lobbying is just another way of saying state-sanctioned bribery and corruption.

          Take the money, gifts and favors out of the equation, and you have what true lobbying would be: a simple statement of facts and/or point of view as regards a matter, designed to inform or sway opinion through mere words. The fact that it has to come accompanied by cash and favors shows that lobbyists don't expect action to be taken unless a bribe is given -- and that is the definition of corruption. No
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I assume you wouldnt bring a briefcase with 100k in it.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        "Lobbying" is "paid lobbying", so there's no problem with you writing a letter or scheduling a meeting. The problem is when someone pays $$$ for "special access". That is bribery and should be illegal. But paying for "access" and hinting at a preferred outcome is currently legal. It's only illegal to link the payment for a vote. Payment for "consideration" is legal (though still bribery).
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by sumdumass (711423)

          There is a fine line on this.

          Suppose your neighbor is going to install a swimming pool and in order to do it, they will have to tear up your yard to install the plumbing. Now suppose your late wife, mother, sister or whatever planted some rose bushes at the fence line and you do not want them disturbed at all because of the sentimental value attached to them. The contractor says- don't worry about it, we will plant new ones. You say that is not good enough, the originals must not be disturbed and protected

          • by AK Marc (707885)

            So in this scenario, did you just bribe the judge or legal system by using a lobbyist (lawyer) who went and made your case through channels not open to you on your behalf in ways you couldn't make on your own so convincingly that you prevailed?

            In theory (and practice) you have no fewer rights if you represent yourself. So, no, that's not bribery.

            That's one of the things lobbyist do.

            No, they don't. They have access you don't have. Because they pre-bribed the Congressman. It's not a bribe to pay someone money for "future consideration" (so long as that's not explicitly a vote). They have access *you* will never have. Thus, it's bribery.

            And it is more likely that one person representing 10,000 voters can make this case in person than it is for 10,000 people individually.

            If that's what happens, I might change my mind, but the "one person" is representing one company, and lying about the people they represent (th

            • by sumdumass (711423)

              No, they don't. They have access you don't have. Because they pre-bribed the Congressman. It's not a bribe to pay someone money for "future consideration" (so long as that's not explicitly a vote). They have access *you* will never have. Thus, it's bribery.

              No, most of the lobbyist have pre-existing relationships with Congressmen which gives them more access than you or I have. But tell me, would you be more inclined to visit with me who you do not know, or your cousin that you met 4 or 5 times at family fu

          • by thaylin (555395)
            Actually your "fine line" is incorrect tot he scenario being discussed. It would be more like you paid your lawyer, when then paid the judge a campaign donation to rule in your favor, I mean help him get elected next time.
          • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @06:52PM (#47028603) Journal

            So in this scenario, did you just bribe the judge or legal system by using a lobbyist (lawyer) who went and made your case through channels not open to you on your behalf in ways you couldn't make on your own so convincingly that you prevailed?

            No. You didn't.

            The lawyer's job is to represent your legal interests in front of a judge.
            In criminal cases, if you can't afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one to represent you.

            On the other hand, the role of the Registered Lobbyist was created specifically to regulate bribery of public officials and to shine light on the interactions of public representatives plus those seeking to influence them.

            Lawyers and lobbyists both have strict rules they have to abide by, but their basic function in society is *not* the same thing at all. Not even close.

            Because of increased disclosure rules, less people are registering as lobbyists and conducting their business outside of the public eye.
            No lawyer can represent you in front of the court if (s)he turns in their license to practice law.

          • by dbIII (701233)
            What a convoluted scenario to go waaaay off topic. The two situations are obviously completely different no matter what extra little petty distractions you add to your convoluted scenario. Just what I'd expect from your posting history where you keep going on about how the ruler of the day (eg. King George) is more important than the rule of law (eg. the line pushed by George Washington).
      • you can only donate to candidates that you can vote for, and only so much money. Everyone gets the same amount of "Free Speech" then. All that's left after that is to enforce equal air time laws.
        • the $ limit should be on the giver not the candidate i.e limit = $5k you cannot give $5k to two candidates, but you could give $2.5k to each. And you can only donate if eligible to vote. NB companies are not eligible to vote.
      • by sumdumass (711423)

        Lets turn that around a bit.

        What happens when you, Joe Consumer, decides you had enough and run for congress yourself in order to fix the issues personally. You then go out and campaign and say what you want to do. I hear you talking, let me introduce myself, I'm big evil coal company executive and I like your ideas so I throw some big time support behind you. I don't ask you to do anything other than stand on what you are campaigning for. I believe it will make a more free society and I think more freedom

        • I know this... If you're that big time coal company executive and you gave millions to my campaign, after I'm elected and you call me, I'll answer your call personally, everyone else can leave voicemail.

          That's just how things work, and the problem with allowing the rich to have a larger say in things. And I say that as being, if not "rich", more well off than most.

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            And if that call is just to say "keep up the good word", does it really matter?

            The entire point of that was to show that some of these bribery charges are actually the results of cheer leading more or less. If you support green candidates, does it mean they are holding positions because you gave them lots of money or does it mean you gave them lots of money because of the positions they already hold?

            • by Duhavid (677874)

              More likely, that call is to say "hey, dude, I really think you need to consider ...".
              And we all know that most people will consider, since that donation happened.
              And if they don't, well, they wont last long at this game.

              Fact is, we, as an electorate, wont elect a person of character.
              We elect, by and large, according to team affiliation.
              We, by and large, are pretty damn stupid.

        • by Duhavid (677874)

          If that were really the case, corporations would not be so likely to donate, as they would have gotten what they want without the price tag.

          It's like a bunch of plants, with money as the fertilizer. The more fertilizer, the more the plant grows, so all the plants/candidates that would favor common people's needs/wants desires wither as they don't get the fertilizer, the ones that get the fertilizer from the corporations and wealthy thrive and make sure they get more.

          It may not be direct bribery, but it mak

      • You can tell them whatever you want. You are not allowed to bribe him.

        And note that I am talking about the current laws. Only lobbyists and corporations are allowed to bribe congressmen. Individuals are not. Even a group of voters are not allowed to even talk to congress. Only the rich and connected are allowed the privilege of bribing congress.

    • by mfh (56)

      While we're at it let's make patents illegal and force everyone to compete based on customer experience rather than who thought of something. Information wants to be free!

    • How about we reclassify businesses as "not persons" and don't let "not persons" make any sort of contribution towards a political cause?

    • by Frankie70 (803801)

      No, not a good idea. Then the USA will rank higher in all of those lists of most corrupt countries. We cannot then pretend that's it's the middle east, asian and third world countries that are the only ones which are corrupt.

  • I don't believe it! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @02:54PM (#47027271)

    All this is, is confirmation of what everyone already knew in their gut, but try to ignore on a daily basis. This is just for something as "small" as net neutrality, use your imagination for more important issues.

    • All this is, is confirmation of what everyone already knew in their gut, but try to ignore on a daily basis.

      They have to ignore it. Otherwise they would feel stupid for reelecting them, and people don't like to be made to feel dumb.

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Saturday May 17, 2014 @02:55PM (#47027281)

    Lobbyists influence politicians! Who knew!

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Newsflash, Lobbyists pay for "consideration" not votes. The effect is the same, so buying votes is legal in the USA. So long as you pay *before* the vote and don't try to take it back if they don't vote how you "request" (don't worry, then never vote against you).
    • by bondsbw (888959)

      I'm not sure whether to be more disgusted by the politicians who took a lot of money to vote against net neutrality, or by those who voted against it anyway.

  • Greg Walden (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Todd Palin (1402501) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @02:57PM (#47027289)
    My congressman, Greg Walden, is in a rock solid Republican district. He gets re-elected no matter what he does. As long as he can stay out of jail and avoid a primary challenge he wins by 2 to 1 in every race. He can take money from the highest bidder and get away with it. He is "congressman for life".
    • by mellon (7048)

      I hope you are voting in the Republican primary and not being proud and voting in the Democratic primary.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Submit him to Bill Maher's #flipadistrict.

    • Hence the reason for term limits...

      When the country was formed, the idea was to have citizen leaders who would go and make policy for a time, then go back to private life. It wasn't meant to be a career.

      • by bondsbw (888959)

        It's reasonable to argue the opposite, that people should be able to vote for whomever they want and they should be able to reward representatives who do a good job with another term.

        Now I would believe that, except I do not trust our electoral system to fairly represent the views of the constituency. This legal bribery we call campaign contributions, along with our plurality voting system, undermine the true will of the people.

        • It's reasonable to argue the opposite, that people should be able to vote for whomever they want and they should be able to reward representatives who do a good job with another term.

          Yes, that is reasonable, in theory... the challenge is that the system in actual practice hasn't worked out that way...

          Congress has approval ratings so low it should be criminal, yet the majority of them keep getting reelected over and over...

          Why is that?

          • Walden raises enormous amounts of cash from corporate interests. In addition to the communication industry he collects from mining, timber, pharmaceutical, medical, finance, war, chemical, ranching, and agriculture industries. Since he can't even come close to spending it all on his own re-election, he doles it out to other candidates in exchange for committee appointments and extra votes on critical issues. In other words, he buys more power. Then he actually uses the fact that he has power to persuade
        • On the other hand, if a representative is truly so good and mindful of the interests of his constituents, a system with fixed terms would encourage him to find and coach a suitable replacement for himself for the sake of those interests, which is also a good thing.

  • by Nutria (679911) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @03:09PM (#47027349)

    does that mean that Nick Rahall is just an idiot for thinking that Net Neutrality is a bad idea?

    • by gman003 (1693318)

      No, it means he's an idiot for not asking for cash up front.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)

      does that mean that Nick Rahall is just an idiot for thinking that Net Neutrality is a bad idea?

      I think it means that he took a lot more than the otherwise top guy. It just wasnt a campaign donation... it was a straight up bribe such as a promise of a position when he leaves office.

  • Didn't we already know this?
  • I have my doubts that more FCC control over the Internet will cause less money to flow into politics. I also have doubts that just because the government is involved that there will be less playing of favorites. I can see the disaster coming when the FCC has their say in peering because of the Netflix deal. If a company gave to the right party in power, then that company gets their peering arrangements approved faster than ones that do not. Yeah, right, the government is *never* corrupt.
  • The connection is so obvious, but somehow this is not considered bribery. Is what the USA needs another truly devastating depression, which seemed to result in more evening out of wealth distribution after the "gilded age"?
    • by OhPlz (168413)

      We all know it's bribery. Every system of government suffers from it. Given that, I doubt many are in favor of scorched earth to fix the problem. What would we end up with? Another system of government run by people which inevitably will lead to more corruption. At least with "lobbying", it's done in the open.

  • Republicans signing the letters against Title II reclassification of the internet as a public utility have received, on average, $59,812 from the cable industry, 5 times more than the average for all members of the House, $11,651.

    That makes it sound like those Republicans can take that money and spend it any way they want. The Members of the House did not receive the money their campaign funds did. They are campaign contributions and can only be spent on re-election campaigns. While that may seem a fine distinction it is an important one.

    • by taz346 (2715665)
      So if I'm a certified public accountant whose job depends on me taking classes every two years to remain certified and someone gives me cash to spend any way I want to fudge their books, it's a bribe; but if they pay for my classes and recertification to fudge their books, it's not a bribe? Sorry, I'm not seeing the distinction there.
      • by tomhath (637240)

        The distinction here is that opposing Net Neutrality isn't illegal.

        If congressmen want to support it and their constituents continue to reelect them, then the congressmen are fulfilling their duty as elected representatives.

        • by taz346 (2715665)
          While it may be legal for a representative to vote a certain way, if they're voting that way because they're getting a payoff to vote that way, it's a bribe in my book. Calling it a campaign contribution is just semantics. Our system of unlimited spending on political campaigns enhances the likelihood that votes on issues such as net neutrality will go the way the highest bidders want it to go.
          • You seem to have a problem with unlimited spending. The problem with campaign spending limits is that it becomes a Freedom of Speech issue. By limiting the amount of money that can be spent one is limiting the amount of communication that can be done. This is from a supreme court ruling [howstuffworks.com];

            A restriction on the amount of money a person or group can spend on political communication during a campaign necessarily reduces the quantity of expression by restricting the number of issues discussed, the depth of their exploration, and the size of the audience reached. This is because virtually every means of communicating ideas in today's mass society requires the expenditure of money.

            What is your alternative? It is easy to point out problems and much more difficult to come up with solutions.

            • Re:double standard (Score:4, Insightful)

              by taz346 (2715665) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @07:07PM (#47028667)
              I'm fully aware of the Supreme Court's recent rulings equating unlimited campaign spending with free speech. I disagree with their reasoning. Other democracies limit both overall campaign spending as well as the length of election campaigns, and those democracies function quite well. When the Court says, "This is because virtually every means of communicating ideas in today's mass society requires the expenditure of money," it ignores obvious alternative methods of mass communication. In the U.S., for example, we have public broadcasting networks in both radio and TV that could be used to give every candidate ample and equal opportunities to reach the public. The Court citing "free speech" as if it always triumphs every other consideration ignores the fact that our society and our courts often limit the free speech of individuals when not doing so would cause harm to other individuals or to society as a whole. Aside from that, I do not agree that campaign spending equals free speech. It comes down to whether or not we believe unlimited campaign spending distorts and corrupts the political process. I believe the evidence is that it clearly does, and I believe that issues like net neutrality illustrate that. Many of the representatives who signed Letter 2 that was referenced in the Ars Technica article represent areas where Internet access is very limited. They are betting that since so many of their constitutents don't have home Internet access, most of them won't even notice their actions on net neutrality or even know what it is. In fact, I doubt most of those representatives could explain net neutrality if asked. They got contributions and signed the letter they were asked to sign because that's how the campaign funding business works.
              • by jklovanc (1603149)

                we have public broadcasting networks in both radio and TV

                Which very few people watch. To get the message out is needs to be where and when people are watching and listening and that means network prime time.

                The Court citing "free speech" as if it always triumphs every other consideration ignores the fact that our society and our courts often limit the free speech of individuals when not doing so would cause harm to other individuals or to society as a whole

                Libel, slander, hate speech, incitement to violence, etc are a far cry from expressing one's opinion on a political issue. Political speech is a very protected thing in the US.

                Aside from that, I do not agree that campaign spending equals free speech.

                Here is a problem with limited spending. Say later in a campaign a rival splurges and exposes some event in your past that is spun all out of recognition. You have spent almost all your

      • This is where similes are not always similar. Whether giving you money directly or someone pay for your classes they are both bribes. In the case of an accountant, you are supposed to make enough income to cover the expense of certification classes. In the case of politicians it has been shown that the cost of running a campaign far outweighs the income of most people. To allow non-billionaires to compete, others (more commonly known as supporters) have been allowed to pay for the campaigns through campaign

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      They launder the money into other accounts, and they "campaign" however they want, whenever they want. They can "campaign" by taking a trip around the world to increase their "visibility" or whatever they want to say, staying in the best hotels or whatever they want. They just have to keep it on separate books, unless they've already laundered it.
  • ...and find your representative to determine how much legitimacy can be attributed to their stated concerns for the public."

    And what would that accomplish? It's not like anything is going to be done at the sudden revelation of who is and is not involved in influencing the FCC on the corporations' views.

    You would think the popularity of Netflix would cause the general public to be strongly on the Net Neutrality side, but for them this whole thing is still "nerd politics". They care about it about as much as they care about the wage gap -- not enough to truly do anything more than stay the current course and take it in the rear.

  • um (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @04:09PM (#47027761)

    So... donating to the campaigns of congressmen that'll vote for things you want is now bribery?

    Look at their own god damned quoted data: http://maplight.org/us-congres... [maplight.org]
    They donated to 397 members of the house out of 435 members which is 91%

    Letter 1 was signed by 4
    Letter 2 was signed by 20
    Letter 3 was signed by 4
    So we have a total of 28 signers.
    So just random statistical chance would mean 91% * 28 = 26 of them would have received contributions.
    27 received contributions, so the total is only off by 1 member or 3%.
    Give me a break. Arstechnica is worse than FoxNews. Why does anyone even read that garbage?

    I despise ALL politicians, and I fully support net neutrality, but this "story" is a joke.

    • by bondsbw (888959)

      My belief is that all campaign donations can potentially constitute bribery. You're right that this story isn't particularly special in that regard.

    • by khchung (462899)

      So... donating to the campaigns of congressmen that'll vote for things you want is now bribery?

      In most other civilized countries, it IS.

      • Free speech is a hell of a two edged sword aint it? Despite that, I'll take it over the rest of th "Free world" any day. As much as there is wrong with my country, at least I can bitch about it and anyone in it publicly without fear of repercussions.

        • by Nemyst (1383049)
          Wait, speech is money now? I don't think anyone opposes lobbyists going to the politicians and talking them into doing what they want. It's giving money to the politicians as an incentive (obviously without saying that that's the case too openly *cough*) that's outright bribery and is illegal in most sane, developed countries.
      • by swillden (191260)

        So... donating to the campaigns of congressmen that'll vote for things you want is now bribery?

        In most other civilized countries, it IS.

        So it's illegal to donate to political campaigns in most other civilized countries?

    • The article is referring to statistics regarding the amounts received, not the distribution among the congressional population.

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >So... donating to the campaigns of congressmen that'll vote for things you want is now bribery?

      No, don't be silly. The rights of individuals to support politicians should not be infringed.

      What *should* be totally and completely eliminated is the current right of entities that *cannot* vote be given control over democratic elections, and by that I mostly mean corporations.

  • The Money Primary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @05:10PM (#47028123) Homepage Journal

    The issue is not just that lawmakers are given money by corporate interests and then vote for their benefit. It's that someone cannot even participate in the election process without getting vetted by monied interests. Long before a politician runs for office, or even in a primary, he has to present himself to a roomful of rich people who will then determine that the politician will work on their behalf. The party doesn't matter, the process is the same. I don't care if they ran as a left-leaning democrat or a tea party Republican, they have to be vetted by the $30,000/plate club before they can take the first steps toward holding office.

    By the time they get into office, it's already assured that they will find a way to make sure the 1%'s interests are taken care of. Whether they take the extra step like writing a letter to the head of the FCC or sponsoring a bill, well, that's negotiable later for a price, but you already know for sure that they're predisposed to protect the wealthy and powerful.

    As someone above has pointed out, the US Constitution was founded as a plutocracy, and despite all the flowery language about liberty and equality, we were designed to be a country that was run by the wealthy.

  • Yeah, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rayk_sland (791740) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @06:36PM (#47028535) Homepage
    Industry lobbyists exert control over Congress through bribery, Congress exerts control over the US through law, US exerts control over as much as the world as possible through sheer bullying. Americans unimpressed by the lack of voice in Congress? What about all the rest of us that have to put up with a world marred by industry lobbyists? America's lack of democracy poisons the planet. -- Guess we'l have to start teaching our children about Anthropogenic Global Insanity...
  • regarding the 28 congressmen who sent a combined total of three letters

    Each of the 28 congressmen only signed one letter. The above makes it sound like some congressmen signed more than one letter.

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @07:51PM (#47028925)

    Take a look at this chart [maplight.org]. There are 12 house members who received campaign contribution at or above the level of John Barrow. A total of $880K were given to these campaigns. If that $800K, $391K was given to the five campaigns that signed the letters and $489K was given to campaigns that did not sign the letters. Giving campaign contributions does not guarantee public support.

    Also take a look at this report. Out of the 51 bill the group had a position on the House voted their way four times. That is an 8% success rate. It does not look like the contributions are making a difference.

  • None of the fiction about "access"; that letter is a service performed for a payment. The traitors should be executed.

  • $26,832 is a paltry amount of money, just buy them back

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie

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