FCC Commish-Turned-Lobbyist Can't See What All The Controversy Is About

from the tone-deaf-to-the-very-end dept

FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker has been receiving a ton of criticism for taking a high level lobbying job at Comcast just months after approving its huge merger with NBC Universal. The response has been almost universally to condemn Baker in a move that smacks of the corruption of regulatory capture and the revolving door between corporations and the government that regulates them. I had been wondering if all of this publicity would lead to Baker backing down and no longer taking the job (only to take a similar job, more quietly, down the road). But, instead, it looks like she's digging in her heels and insisting that nothing (nothing!) improper is going on here. She claims she hadn't even considered taking a job until months (months!) after the merger was approved:
Until late this spring, my plan was to seek renomination for a second term as Commissioner. That was true all through the winter during consideration of the Comcast/NBCUniversal transaction and in the months after it was completed.

Not once in my entire tenure as a Commissioner had anyone at Comcast or NBCUniversal approached me about potential employment. When this opportunity became available in mid- April, I made a personal decision that I wanted to give it serious consideration.
Nowhere in Baker's statement does she even come close to acknowledging the concerns that people have raised. Instead, she claims that she's been extra ethical in that she's "gone further" than what the law requires:
I have not only complied with the legal and ethical laws, but I also have gone further. I have not participated or voted any item, not just those related to Comcast or NBCUniversal, since entering discussions about an offer of potential employment. Because of this, I plan to depart the Commission as soon as I am able to ensure an orderly wind-down of my office.
Well, isn't that nice.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 13th, 2011 @ 1:16pm

    Wow, she really has failed upwards.

     

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  2.  
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    Christopher (profile), May 13th, 2011 @ 2:07pm

    Sorry, lady..... what you did is NOT ethical in the slightest and REEKS of corruption. It's time to admit that and for the government to set aside the decision on the Comcast merger until these questions are answered and they can investigate whether other people might have been as corrupt as you are!

    I swear..... it's people like this woman who get me angry at our system of government.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Russell B, May 13th, 2011 @ 2:10pm

    I suppose...

    One could say that her actions have been extra-ethical.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2011 @ 2:16pm

    "Instead, she claims that she's been extra ethical in that she's "gone further" than what the law requires: "

    and that's the problem, the law doesn't require enough.

     

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  5.  
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    Christopher (profile), May 13th, 2011 @ 2:23pm

    Re:

    True that..... the law should require that when you vote on something that a company is involved in, you are FORBIDDEN from owning stock in that company, taking any gifts from that company, or working for that company for AT LEAST 5 years... better lifetime!

     

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  6.  
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    Mike42 (profile), May 13th, 2011 @ 2:23pm

    legal laws

    Come on, don't you know that legal, moral and ethical are all the same thing? They just made different words for English majors!

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2011 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re:

    What if she went and worked for another company and the company ended up buying her company? Would she be forced to resign?

     

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  8.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), May 13th, 2011 @ 2:33pm

    Re: I suppose...

    I wonder if these exact words were used by the people convicted in the Air Force tanker contract scandal at Beoing.

    She's 'extra' ethical only until it comes out she's not.

     

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  9.  
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    Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian, May 13th, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    Keeping up appearances

    I have worked in government in various capacities, and I have always understood clearly that I must avoid even the APPEARANCE of impropriety. This goes far beyond appearances...

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    They never once offered me a job, until they did and I took it.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    Why would this happen if legit

    If I was Comcast and I had a FCC commissioner who saw things my way, I wouldn't be offering her jobs to take her away from that position.

    Isn't an FCC commisioner in your corner more valuable to Comcast than having another lobbyist?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2011 @ 3:03pm

    Re: legal laws

    Sorry, but "legal" and "moral" are most definitely NOT the same thing. It wasn't that long ago, historically, that it was legal to buy/own/sell humans as slaves. Are you willing to argue that because is was legal that is was also moral?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2011 @ 3:06pm

    Complaint: "Even if you're being honest, your behavior has the appearance of corruption."

    Response: "But I'm being really, really honest!"


    If only self-awareness was something you could inject, like insulin.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2011 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Re: legal laws

    You need to check your sarcasm meter.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2011 @ 3:14pm

    Re:

    "I'm honest, trust me."

     

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  16.  
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    PRMan, May 13th, 2011 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re: I suppose...

    I think the grandparent was using "extra" in the sense of "outside of".

     

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  17.  
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    Ron Rezendes (profile), May 13th, 2011 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Did she take that job knowing of the impending merger?

    Did she put forth legislation or make any decisions that would facilitate the merger?

    If the answer is "Yes." to either question the the obvious answer would be "Yes, she should resign."

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2011 @ 3:46pm

    and that government of the CORPORATIONS, by the CORPORATIONS, for the CORPORATIONS, shall not perish from the earth.

    I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine. But I'll be extra ethical about it!

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2011 @ 4:12pm

    She Knows

    She is fully aware of the revolving door and the connection to corruption. She is highly intelligent and ruthless. She decided long ago that she would engage in corrupt behavior. She is lying very cleverly and deliberately about the course of events leading up to her appointment. She is in trouble and she knows it. She is now trying to lie her way out of trouble. Do not buy it, people.

    She knows what she is doing and the directors of Comcast are fully-aware co-conspirators.

     

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  20.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, May 13th, 2011 @ 4:15pm

    Re: Moral To Own Slaves?

    The Christian Bible seems to see it as a moral act.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2011 @ 4:25pm

    Re: Keeping up appearances

    I work for a company who does a lot of work with the US Government and every year we must complete ethics training. They very deffinitly drill home the idea that even if an action is legal but the appearance of that action might be interpreted as unethical, then that action is a serious offence against the companies ethical standards and is subject to dicipline. That such a high ranking official in the government does not grasp that concept is.... suspicious?

     

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  22.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), May 13th, 2011 @ 4:35pm

    Thanks for doing that, at the very least...

    "Because of this, I plan to depart the Commission as soon as I am able to ensure an orderly wind-down of my office.

    Will said "wind-down" include instructions on how to project a "deer-in-the-headlights" sort of innocent naivete? Or is that just something the incoming appointee will have to practice in front of the mirror during his or her downtime?

     

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  23.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), May 13th, 2011 @ 4:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: I suppose...

    I can't believe he didn't get that ...

     

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  24.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), May 13th, 2011 @ 4:57pm

    Re: Re: Keeping up appearances

    "That such a high ranking official in the government does not grasp that concept"

    If you have dealt with any politician recently they are slightly off their nut. It's like the party is about to end and they are getting frantic because there is nothing they can do about it. It reminds me of the fall of Rome in some ways. I am waiting for the offical white house orgy invite to leak ending in B.Y.O.S. (Bring Your Own Sheep).

     

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  25.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), May 13th, 2011 @ 4:59pm

    Re: Re:

    but ... but ... the cherry tree

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2011 @ 6:28pm

    I have not only complied with the legal and ethical laws, but I also have gone further. I have not participated or voted any item, not just those related to Comcast or NBCUniversal, since entering discussions about an offer of potential employment.

    So, in other words, she has been neglecting her duties as a Commissioner in their entirety. Yet despite not doing her job "since entering discussions," she's presumably still been accepting her paychecks. Now that's what I call ethical behavior!

     

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  27.  
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    Thomas (profile), May 13th, 2011 @ 6:45pm

    politicians..

    are very good at covering their own misdeeds. Personally I think she's simply another opportunist, making the right votes then getting cushy job outside. Any politician knows how to come up with excuses for anything, up to and including murder.

    It's even working the other way; the RIAA/MPAA attorneys are now working for the DOJ, which to me sounds like hiring foxes to keep order in the henhouse. Sometimes I wonder if the DOJ attorneys from the RIAA/MPAA still receive checks that are not from the government.

     

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  28.  
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    Aerilus, May 13th, 2011 @ 11:13pm

    What?

    "I have not participated or voted any item, not just those related to Comcast or NBCUniversal"

    wait so why she is flushing out her cushy new job in the private sector she is wasting tax payer money by not fulfilling the job she is getting payed to do at the fcc. I think that perfectly highlight why this is a conflict of interest even in the opposite way of what you might think

     

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  29.  
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    Aerilus, May 13th, 2011 @ 11:17pm

    Re: Why would this happen if legit

    well if i were an fcc commissioner in comcast pocket and I knew that they really wanted somehting bad i would make them pull me out of my precarious corrupted position and give me a nice cushy desk job with an air tight contract and if comcast has ever wanted anything its for this merger to go through

     

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  30.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 14th, 2011 @ 12:28am

    Re: She Knows

    I wonder if people could get slapped with "perverting the course of justice" charges for doing things like that. Because if they can't, you done fucked up.

     

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  31.  
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    Bengie, May 14th, 2011 @ 7:10am

    umm..

    Her allowing the merger was in itself corruption, yet alone her taking a job with them.

     

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  32.  
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    Mary Craig, May 14th, 2011 @ 3:00pm

    Obligatory quote

    "It is difficult to get a woman to understand something when her job depends on not understanding it."

    Upton Sinclair

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2011 @ 10:56pm

    Re: Why would this happen if legit

    Well, perhaps, if it wasn't likely that her successor will be exactly the same.

     

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  34.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), May 16th, 2011 @ 7:10am

    Re: Why would this happen if legit

    You gotta think long term. The next commissioner will be just as easily bought. And after spending a few years "working in business" they can get this one elected to just make the laws instead of (not)enforcing them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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