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FCC Commissioner Leaves To Become Lobbyist 309

Posted by samzenpus
from the passing-the-smell-test dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Meredith Attwell Baker, one of the FCC Commissioners, is leaving the FCC to become a lobbyist for Comcast-NBC, just four months after approving their merger deal. She refused to put any significant conditions on the merger, saying that the deal would 'bring exciting benefits to consumers that outweigh potential harms.' Comcast has released an official statement saying that, 'Meredith's executive branch and business experience along with her exceptional relationships in Washington bring Comcast and NBCUniversal the perfect combination of skills.'"
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FCC Commissioner Leaves To Become Lobbyist

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  • Disgusting (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:26PM (#36100012)

    Maybe before she leaves she can put the stamp of approval on AT&T / T-Mobile as a fallback.

    • Re:Disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by saneshark (2143176) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:40PM (#36100162)
      Everything that is wrong with politics and lobbying. Make lobbying illegal, dethrone corporate power.
      • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @06:05PM (#36100426)

        How can you make lobbying illegal? Politicians need to be able to talk to people to do their job, so you can really ban lobbying. I think what you mean is lobbyists should be arrested because of all the shady, back room stuff they seem to do. I don't think the problem is that there aren't enough laws and regulations, so much as it is that the stakes are so high that no punitive measures are grave enough to discourage people from engaging in these kinds of activities. The only real solution is to not consolidate so much power and authority in one place. That would limit the scope of abuses, and it would reduce the rewards of engaging in this kind of behavior (which should reduce the number of people willing to participate in it).

        • oh, actually bribery is already illegal.

          too bad the 'rule of law' doesnt apply to the friends of the powerful.

          • Depends how you define bribery.

            "Do this and I'll give you money." - illegal. "Do this and you can expect a hefty donation to your political campaign" - legal.
        • by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @06:37PM (#36100768)

          How can you make lobbying illegal?

          By making paid lobbying illegal.

        • by sonamchauhan (587356) <sonamc@ g m a i l . com> on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @09:10PM (#36102080) Journal

          "Politicians need to be able to talk to people to do their job,... "

          And they need paid lobbyists to do that?

          Politicians may as well auction off their policy positions on their website...
          "$10000 to my re-election fund bans toxic waste, Or not."

          Anyway, that's besides the point. The simplest thing to do would in this case would be to ban any paid work (for a "cooling off" period) for any entity you had government authority over. This hiatus helps undue influence cool off, and hinders possible abuses of authority (Commissioner: "I am looking into your merger plans. By the way, does your firm hire lobbyists ... I'm thinking of a career shift in a few months". Company: "Uh, yes - you'll have to wait 2 years though". Commissioner:"Okkkay").

          • by ghostdoc (1235612)

            Anyway, that's besides the point. The simplest thing to do would in this case would be to ban any paid work (for a "cooling off" period) for any entity you had government authority over. This hiatus helps undue influence cool off, and hinders possible abuses of authority (Commissioner: "I am looking into your merger plans. By the way, does your firm hire lobbyists ... I'm thinking of a career shift in a few months". Company: "Uh, yes - you'll have to wait 2 years though". Commissioner:"Okkkay").

            Doesn't work because the position becomes available for the spouse or children.

            Commissioner: "I am looking into your merger plans. By the way does your firm hire lobbyists? I have a daughter who is interested in a career in lobbying..."
            Company: "As it happens, yes we do and we have a position available for someone with your daughter's qualifications, and a salary of around..."
            Commissioner: "I think she mentioned she was looking for a base salary of $250K"
            Company: "I was just going to say $250K"
            Commissioner:

  • Revolving Door (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elohel (1582481) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:26PM (#36100016)
    Revolving door. Enough said. Honestly, I'm tired of caring about it. Action will only happen when people begin to truly feel the effects. Logic is lost on the masses.
    • Re:Revolving Door (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @06:55PM (#36100934)

      We already do feel the effects. Higher prices, rubbish/no customer service, lack of a true open market, marketing/advertisers tracking everything you do.
      When the laws have failed us I see no reason to abide by those laws. I now ignore any law created to protect corporations.

  • So, how many of her corrupt little lackeys are going with her?

  • Get a high level position in Congress, White House, any agency and get guaranteed a super high paying lobbyist job. How terrible public service is!
  • Corruption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@NOSpAM.uberm00.net> on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:27PM (#36100030) Homepage Journal

    Corruption just seems to be getting more and more visible and obvious, and nobody with the power to stop it gives a damn.

    • Re:Corruption (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:45PM (#36100234) Journal

      No kidding. The fact that the DoJ isn't as we speak executing a search warrant on her offices, her home and of the corporate headquarters of Comcast-NBC as her and the CEO and board of director's legal teams are being instructed not to leave the country indicates just how pathetic the justice system has become, and just how willing the big players are to flaunt it.

      • Re:Corruption (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tx (96709) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:58PM (#36100356) Journal

        It shouldn't have to come to that. It's shocking that this is allowed; it should be in the contract when you sign up to work for a public body like the FCC that you can't then work for any company whose business you were involved in for at least x years.

        • It's likely the opposite where individuals are recruited to the gov. positions (which may or may not have competitive compensation) with the promise that they'll land highly sought lobbying positions after.

        • Set 'X' equal to at least 50, and don't forget to include spinoff companies. That way, chances are that if you've accumulated enough power to cause significant mischief, you won't be able to cash in until after you're dead. Not that that would stop everybody...
    • by jd2112 (1535857)

      Corruption just seems to be getting more and more visible and obvious, and nobody with the power to stop it gives a damn.

      Correction: Those who have power to stop it are generally benefiting from the situation.

  • Care to share any and all correspondence between you and Comcast/NBC during the merger review, Ms. Baker? Not that I'm suggesting you would ever trade your vote for a cushy job, just to put any unfortunate rumors to rest, you see...

    Yeah, somehow I don't think that is going to happen.

    Now where did I leave my pitchfork and torch?

    • by f8l_0e (775982)
      Let me know if you can't find them. I'll pick you up a set at the hardware store on the way to the mob rally point.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      I don't think the Comcast/NBC merger is that big of a deal. A cable company acquired a 4th place network and a few channels with sinking ratings. I think it will have as little impact as when UPN/WB bankrupted themselves & created CW, or when Sirius XM merged. Little impact will be noticed.

      I do however think Comcast needs to be sued under the Sherman Antitrust Act, forced into regulation, and price fixed just like the electricity and water monopolies. They are a utility and should be treated as such

      • by praxis (19962)

        Yes, you are right, corruption involving the fourth largest corporation isn't a big deal and we should just look the other way. This isn't about allowing or disallowing the merger, this is about perhaps taking a look into why the person responsible for the decision is taking a cushy job with the same entity shorty after green-lighting the merger.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:28PM (#36100046)

    They either come from Corporations (which means they are biased in favor of their former boss) or they know that the job will eventually lead from government to a cushy corporate position, if they just brown nose enough (hand down the right decisions).

    I still think the FCC's decision to allow Internet Devices to broadcast over top existing TV channels demonstrates they care more about pleasing their once-or-future bosses (Microsoft, Google, Apple, ATT, etc), even if it means blocking consumers ability to watch free TV.

    FCC == corporate tool.

  • Weird Statement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adambomb (118938) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:28PM (#36100050) Journal

    Odd for a lobbyist to say something like "bring exciting benefits to consumers that outweigh potential harms", which confirms they believe there is a potential for abuses. A statement like that practically begs for someone to ask what these benefits are exactly, that she was able to even make such a statement.

    • Yeah, though I tend to notice the "potential harms" bit. At least it's mentioned, which is a gesture approximating honesty.
  • This is SO wrong.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yossie (93792) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:28PM (#36100056)

    If by 'Meredith's executive branch and business experience along with her exceptional relationships in Washington bring Comcast and NBCUniversal the perfect combination of skills.' they mean that she accepts bribes, er, a job offer from the people she JUST granted a favor to, then, YES.

  • I quit my job as a geological surveyor for Exxon bought a plot of desert land with absolutely no significance what so ever and then out of coincidence am rounding up investors for a business that's just so happened to be named Black Gold LLC. Nope no conflict of interest ever existed here.
  • Government is corrupt like crazy (see also all the D- Reps from places like Alaska or Louisiana protesting abolition of tax-breaks for big oil...). No news, really. They should actually have titles like Comcast Commissioner (FCC), or Rapiscan Secretary of Homeland Security (looking at you, Chertoff). At least it would make the situation clearer. Nothing to see here, move along.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by geekoid (135745)

      "Government is corrupt like crazy"
      no, not really. Over all it's pretty good. excellent compared to most, if not all, other governments on the planet.
      It is complex, so people like you peek into a keyhole and then complain about things that don't 'make sense. Completely ignoring the fact that you only have a tiny view that's only bit's of other things,.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>excellent compared to most, if not all, other governments on the planet.

        I really, really hate this argument. Just because our pile of manure has whipped cream on it, while the other governments are just plain manure, doesn't mean we have to call it "excellent".

        If we compare our government today, to what it was in 1900, it's clear that we've gone downhill. In fact..... I'd say we fell off a cliff. Why should stop comparing ourselves to the other corrupt governments of the present, and instead

        • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @06:10PM (#36100480) Homepage

          If we compare our government today, to what it was in 1900, it's clear that we've gone downhill.

          You're right, if you look at the decade between 1900 and 1910. However, before that you had the Whiskey Ring and Tammany Hall, after that, you had the Newport Sex Scandal and Teapot Dome. The US government has never been completely free of corruption and harking back to some mythical "Golden Age" does no one any good. The only reason why things look worse now is that the dollar amounts have increased - but that's inflation for you...

      • 17/150 on the http://www.worldaudit.org/corruption.htm [worldaudit.org] scale not that bad but not as good as Canada or Sweden (and both country are corrupt as hell but not as much as they were 50 years ago)

  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:35PM (#36100106) Journal

    Translation: Meredith's dedication to serving us during her tenure as FCC Commissioner, and her willingness to betray every principle, ethical or moral, makes her a perfect fit for our corporate atmosphere, much as a piece of shit makes a perfect fit for a septic tank. We look forward to long years of benefiting from her betrayal of the American people.

  • by boristdog (133725) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:36PM (#36100116)

    When my father retired from NASA, he had to wait two years before he could work for anyone who did any business with NASA.

    Apparently this sort of thing doesn't apply to political appointees.

    LBJ much?

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:43PM (#36100210)

      When my father retired from NASA, he had to wait two years before he could work for anyone who did any business with NASA. Apparently this sort of thing doesn't apply to political appointees.

      Executive order number 2, from Obama's first day on the job, bans lobbying for 2 years by former members of the administration. So no, there is no law, but there is an order in place that gets anyone in the executive branch meeting with her to discuss changes to laws or policies fired.

      • by blair1q (305137) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:48PM (#36100276) Journal

        So, no lobbying the White House, but Congress is fair game.

        Tells you a lot about Congress.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        In other words that XO is completely ineffective, since lawmakers don't work in the executive office, and she's free to Lobby congressmembers all she desires. Starting immediately.

        • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @06:48PM (#36100860)

          In other words that XO is completely ineffective, since lawmakers don't work in the executive office, and she's free to Lobby congressmembers all she desires. Starting immediately.

          Not completely ineffective, just not as effective as we'd like. The next FCC commissioner, for example, cannot have her over to discuss what Comcast would like changed by the FCC. That is a real benefit. The problem being that most people don't give a damn and are too easily distracted by other issues so they don't vote out the corrupt legislators that don't pass a similar ban.

          It is actually quite interesting. The so called Tea Party is a combination grassroots movement and lobbyist/PR firm funded movement that manages to focus completely on issues other than lobbying. This is an issue where the vast majority of Americans: Democrat, Republican, and independent are in agreement. Not many people think it should be legal for companies and foreign governments to give gifts to or meet with lawmakers or provide them with campaign funds. It's just that people are too distracted by other issues to gather together behind reform candidates and vote on it. There is some chance, this is the purpose of the Tea Party, to prevent a real grassroots movement that does end up rooting out corruption and banning most lobbying.

      • by danlip (737336)

        So she can just sit on her butt for the first 2 years and collect a huge paycheck. She is still effectively taking a delayed bribe for granting a favor.

        And in the meantime I am sure she can provide lots of juicy insider info about the FCC players (like who else would be willing to take a bribe). And she could direct a team of lobbyists as long as she didn't show up herself. And as other mentioned, she can still lobby congress, just not the executive branch.

  • Non-compete (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macraig (621737) <mark.a.craig@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:36PM (#36100118)

    It's a sad testimonial to the lopsided state of our nation's political system when we need non-compete clauses for elected and appointed officials to prevent them from leaping to the Dark Side immediately after their terms end.

  • 3...2...1.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Virtucon (127420) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:36PM (#36100124)

    The next sound you hear will be bunch of grandstanding Senators investigating her. Give it a week, 10 days tops.

    This is plain and simple fraud.

    "Meredith's executive branch and business experience along with her exceptional relationships in Washington bring Comcast and NBCUniversal the perfect combination of skills." - means we bought the bitch a long time ago, we just are now taking possession.

  • Can we just accept the fact that they're all corrupt, and simply require that politicians publish their price, and who's pocket they're in so that the general public can try to buy a few?!
  • ask for an investigation. also, the attorney general.

  • Back to Basics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @05:57PM (#36100346)
    Shouldn't lobbying be Illegal ?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How do you define lobbying? If you're talking about something to do with money and gifts, it's already illegal, but hard to enforce.
      In the ordinary definition of the word, lobbying is "petitioning the government for a redress of grievances".

  • My press release (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Morris Thorpe (762715) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @06:00PM (#36100388)

    For Immediate release

    Comcast-NBC announced today that Meredith Attwell Baker is joining the company as a lobbyist.

    In our previous professional dealings, the company has found Attwell Baker to be wide open to hard and long discussions. Though faced with difficult positions, Attwell Baker was always flexible and willing to prod new and unexplored avenues. The drippings of our mutual efforts leave a permanent mark on the fabric of America and its citizens.

    Comcast-NBC will introduce Attwell Baker Thursday morning. Just as soon as she cleans her chin.

  • Or jigolo. all of them. its as simple as that. disgusting.
  • "When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things bought and sold are legislators."

    What's really funny is that the people who want the government involved in everything are the same who act outraged when the inevitable corruption follows.

    • do you think there should be no regulation? there is a reason the FDA was created; people were dying from bad products being sold.
      in China there's no FDA - instead they take the guy pointing out the baby-milk scandal and put him in prison for several years.
      (Zhao Lianhai).

      • by Dr. Sp0ng (24354)

        As opposed to the cancer patients that are dying because they're denied access to experimental treatments? The FDA cuts both ways, and it's not at all clear to me that it's a net win, especially when you consider where health care could be if it were allowed to flourish like the computer industry.

    • by rbrander (73222)

      PJ was making a joke. I think that even he knows that when buying and selling are not controlled by laws, the first things bought and sold are human beings.

      Let's not fight THAT war again...

      • by Dr. Sp0ng (24354)

        He was making a joke, yes- that's what he does. But that line reflects his (and my) actual views on the subject. Laws can set the general rules (eg. no fraud), but they can't get into the specifics of individual deals without inviting corruption.

  • QUIT VOTING REPUBLICRAT

    If you are still under the delusion the United States has "two political parties" you're stupid. We have one political party in power with two sudo oppositional sides both of which are owned by different sets of corporations. It is obvious who owned this politician. If you think your politician isn't owned by a company or two and you vote Republicrat you're stupid.

    More government regulation is the problem, not the solution, I don't really care where you're looking.

    You want corporations to have less power? The only way to remove power from corporations is to remove it from the government, there really isn't much of a dividing line anymore. The corporations that are the most regulated are the ones that have the most government protection against new competition. Corporate power and government power are the same thing.

    If you vote Democrat OR Republican you are part of the problem, not the solution.

    • by Dutchmaan (442553)
      I disagree. Regulation is beneficial, but what we are lacking are public servants who have the integrity to actually serve the public good. Allowing corporations free reign because they corrupt is a rather backwards argument. Corporations corrupt *to get* free reign, so suggesting that as a solution just leads me to believe that you're part of the corruption.
    • Government is the only thing between corporations and total power. The problem is government isn't held accountable for their mis-deeds. If the dems and reps both sold out then stop voting for both parties. If there's nothing better then run for office. That IS how the system works.
  • Perhaps oaths of office should be expanded to include morality that might extend into situations like this. It's one thing to be fired in a changing of the guard and go back to work in industry but this sounds too much like an overt payoff. There should be changes to the law that allow business deals like this to be reevaluated.

  • The bigger companies get the smaller people become. I propose we set a maximum limit on corporations, anything larger can't do business in our country.

We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.

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