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Government Politics

Comcast Executives Appear To Share Cozy Relationships With Regulators 63

Posted by timothy
from the how-totally-amazing dept.
v3rgEz (125380) writes A month before Comcast's announcement of a $45B takeover of rival Time-Warner, Comcast's top lobbyist invited the US government's top antitrust regulators to share the company's VIP box at the Sochi Olympics. A Freedom of Information Act request from Muckrock reveals that the regulators reluctantly declined, saying "it sounds like so much fun" but the pesky "rules folks" would frown on it, instead suggesting a more private dinner later.
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Comcast Executives Appear To Share Cozy Relationships With Regulators

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  • suggesting a more private dinner where Joozian Three Way orgy was performed

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2014 @05:59PM (#47380055)

    They invited them to a party Comcast was throwing at the Newseum in D.C., which is a far cry from "the company's VIP box at the Sochi Olympics."

    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @06:16PM (#47380153)

      Wish I had mod points, since AC has it right. If you check the document attached with the article, page 26 has the actual invitation itself, and it clearly says the event is in D.C., rather than in Sochi, and there's no mention at all of a VIP box or anything of the sort. This story went from "Comcast cordially invited them to an opening ceremony event at the Newseum" in the actual invitation to "Comcast invited them to an event for the Sochi opening ceremony" in the article to "Comcast invited them to a VIP box at Sochi" in the \. summary.

      It's a non-story. Just regular schmoozing. Though the fact that regular schmoozing is a non-story might be a story in and of itself...

      • by kolbe (320366)

        Agreed, gave him one of my mod points hehe.

        Checked the article myself, it lines up with what AC is saying.

      • It's a non-story. Just regular schmoozing. Though the fact that regular schmoozing is a non-story might be a story in and of itself...

        The takeaway here is that Comcast is in bed with industry regulators. While we all knew this already, we shouldn't allow that fact to cloud our judgement about the obviously unacceptable state of current affairs.

        This email clearly shows a cordial relationship between the correspondents. It should be illegal for corporations to make this kind of offer to a regulator, and

      • Really, though, they shouldn't be inviting their *regulators* to anything other than functions related to regulation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2014 @06:10PM (#47380105)

    I hate Comcast/Time Warner as much as the next guy but... I work in sourcing and this is the exact type of email I would send back to a vendor that is overstepping reasonable G&E (gift and entertainment) bounds. What else should they have said? Just not responded? Jeez.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, this is indeed normal. People at large companies like where I work have to go through refresher training on things like gifts to public employees (basically we can't even take them to lunch without multiple approvals and filing government forms) and also in things like the foreign anti-corrupt practices act, etc. These folks declined like they were supposed to. Comcast on the other hand would have had to file lobbying forms, etc. if the officials had accepted. I wonder if those would have actually been
    • by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @06:18PM (#47380167) Journal

      I had that same thought. This is SOP for any professional relationship. The language in the e-mail is very informal but polite, also SOP. Where's the smoking gun here?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2014 @06:19PM (#47380173)

      Just to be clear, I take the response that they made to actually be better than not responding or saying "no thanks" - by bringing up the "rule folks" it clearly indicated that the request was improper to begin with and is a polite way of telling the lobbyist to stop sending such invitations.

      • by jandrese (485)
        Either that of you could read it as "Jesus Christ, an email? Why didn't you just hand type it and deliver it? You want to leave a paper trail?!?! Just how new are you to lobbying? Never leave a paper trail that the rules guys might find, they're total buzzkills. By the way, I'll be at the country club next Thursday if you want to discuss anything--it's not bugged."
  • Say it ain't so. . . (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Idou (572394) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @06:10PM (#47380107) Journal
    I suppose I could go into a rant and write a long post lamenting the influence of the wealthy on our government. However, I think I will just shut-up and do something about it instead by going here [mayday.us] and doubling my pledge. . .
  • Blatant corruption (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is blatant corruption. But it's the US, so nobody will give a shit, and the crony capitalism will continue until it ruins the entire country.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is blatant corruption. But it's the US, so nobody will give a shit, and the crony capitalism will continue until it ruins the entire country.

      I dislike crony capitalism and worse, the insider oligarchy running this country, but blatant corruption would be him accepting the gift, not declining it.

      • There you go again, using that crazy 'murican logic.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Accepting the gift would certainly be worse. However, regulators should not be on a first name basis with the people they regulate, and shouldn't be inviting each other to dinner, talking about having coffee, preferentially reading their friends' corporate merger justification tracts, and looking forward to the next time they can get together for $whatever. If I did that with, say, a property assessor, it'd be called bribery and I'd be thrown in jail.

        • by jofny (540291)
          This is true up to a point. The rules are in place to keep those things from becoming so excessive that they turn into abuse. That said, easy and informal working relationships - within the bounds of law - also positively influence regulated environments by reducing misunderstandings, enhancing willingness to work through issues, assuring that the regulated and regulators start from much more similar conceptual pages, and improving the overall effectiveness and applicability of future regulations. It's an
  • Public Choice Theory (Score:5, Informative)

    by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @06:22PM (#47380197) Homepage

    Regulatory Capture [wikipedia.org] results in regulators being captured.

  • Troll (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    While Slashdot's modus operandi is soak us in hyperbole and half truths while daring us to make fools of ourselves in this case there is not even a morsel of parity between headline and TFA and as such goes too far.

    Headline might as well have read.. "Comcast executives appear to have sexual encounters with unicorns" while casually quoting a document which provides no evidence of the same.

  • by HairyNevus (992803) <hairynevus&gmail,com> on Thursday July 03, 2014 @06:50PM (#47380341)
    Uhm, no fucking shit. Obligatory [youtu.be]
  • *Regulator hand Comcast a grimy, well used jar of Vaseline®* Them Tax Payers tend to clench up when you shove it in, so dab some of that on your rod and it's like riding a slip n' slide
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You know it runs deep when you have legal bribing (lobbying) in your country.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Different scale but as being a manager or someone senior in IT in the corporate world, you could get a free lunch, dinner, and box seats for something probably 5 days a week if you tried hard enough. One of my guys that left recently was doing this all the time. I didn't mind but eventually they would start calling me. I'd have to explain why our Windows engineer was wrong when he said we are interested in accelerators, some new router, or switching to some company for our corporate MPLS. Why he was me

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2014 @07:53PM (#47380669)

    "I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists â" and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president."

    -- Barack Obama, Speech in Des Moines, IA
    November 10, 2007

    http://change.gov/agenda/ethic... [change.gov]

    Yes, this is still up on the Internet, even today.

  • That should simply be illegal. It's good to have meetings with related businesses to express concerns etc., but it should be in a plain government meeting room with no perks: no food, no dancers, no music, etc.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      But how would Congress, legislators, mayors, councilmen, etc. be able to "do their jobs" (e.g., secure either their next election's funding or their next job outside of government)?

      captcha: swindle

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      You should at least allow donuts. Don't be such a hard ass.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The entire body of elected officials should be quartered in WWII style barracks, with military chow lines, with drill sergeants at every entrance and exit to make sure that they understand what kind of maggots they really are.

      Every meeting should be publicly recorded, available 24x7 - there are NO secrets from the people of this country from which all of their "powers" are derived.

      If they forget about this, then please refer to Thomas Jefferson.

      "God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebel

  • In their training material that new employees go through, they make a big hairy deal out of not doing exactly these types of things.
  • ...the worst government money can buy.

  • Ya' think? (Score:4, Informative)

    by medusa-v2 (3669719) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @10:42PM (#47381233)
    In my former hometown of Philly, there's a saying "you can vote for whatever you want, but you can't against Comcast." For all practical purposes they have a monopoly on wired Internet access in the city.
  • appear ?
  • They have MSNBC to do that.

  • The big telecoms are perennially in the top 20 companies/organizations in terms of annual lobbying expenditure. In 2012 for example:

    https://www.opensecrets.org/lo... [opensecrets.org]

    #10 AT&T $17,460,000
    #15 Verizon $15,220,000
    #16 Comcast $14,750,000

    Imagine what they dump into PACs and campaign contributions? How many regulators are past or future execs in these companies?

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