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Government The Almighty Buck Politics

Congressmen Who Lobbied FCC Against Net Neutrality & Received Payoff 192

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 @03:53PM (#47027259)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @03:53PM (#47027267)

    make it illegal.

  • Greg Walden (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Todd Palin ( 1402501 ) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @03:57PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @04:22PM (#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.

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

    by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @05:00PM (#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.

  • Re:Pretty much (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @05:13PM (#47027795)

    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 would also, for example, prohibit actions like those taken when SOPA was killed. (Also I like how they use made up statistics everywhere, like claiming that 96% of the country is behind them....if that was really the case, we wouldn't be having this discussion.)

    In situations like the TFA describes, I think a better solution would be to force congressmen and senators to recuse themselves of voting on issues that major campaign contributors have a vested interest in. That would VERY quickly solve the problem that they're attempting to solve (lobbyists would effectively be punished for contributing campaign dollars,) and it wouldn't run afoul of any first amendment issues.

  • The Money Primary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @06:10PM (#47028123) 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 @07:36PM (#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...
  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @07:52PM (#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.

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

    by taz346 ( 2715665 ) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @08:07PM (#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.
  • Re:Pretty much (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @08:09PM (#47028679)

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

    Civil forfeiture is even more terrifying.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger