Shockingly Unshocking: Two Congressional Staffers Who Helped Write SOPA/PIPA Become Entertainment Industry Lobbyists

from the revolving-door dept

Two high level Congressional staffers who have been instrumental in creating or moving forward both PROTECT IP (PIPA) and SOPA have left their jobs on Capitol Hill and taken jobs with two of the biggest entertainment industry lobbyists, who are working very hard to convince Congress to pass the legislation they just helped write. And people wonder why the American public looks on DC as being corrupt.
Allison Halataei, former deputy chief of staff and parliamentarian to House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Lauren Pastarnack, a Republican who has served as a senior aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee, worked on online piracy bills that would push Internet companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook to shut down websites that offer illegal copies of blockbuster films and chart-topping songs.
Pastarnack went to the MPAA where she'll be "director of government relations" and Halataei to the NMPA (music publishers and songwriters) where she'll be "chief liaison to Capitol Hill." The Politico article linked above notes that this kind of "revolving door" is all too common. It may not be directly corrupt, but to the public it sure feels corrupt. It certainly gives off the appearance of "hey, write us the insane bill that we want, and then we'll reward you with a super cushy high paying job." At the very least, it should raise significant questions about whether or not these two bills were written with the public's interest in mind (I know, I know, don't laugh....) or their future employers'. Technically, neither of them can directly lobby the specific committees where they worked, but they can certainly assist in the process.
“They can provide invaluable insight to people on the outside — even in the consultation mode,” one tech industry lobbyist said, noting that Halataei had been Smith’s secondhand person and knows how the Texas Republican thinks and what would be an effective lobbying strategy.

Additionally, the Senate and House panels work closely together, and both Halataei and Pastarnack have ties to staffers in the chambers they didn’t serve in and aren’t banned from lobbying.
Also, as the Politico article notes, a year from now, you can bet there will still be fights about either this or similar legislation. American politics is a disaster.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    ken (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 10:53am

    No conflict here folks.

    So former Senator Chris Dodd who wrote legislation that now benefits the MPAA is now the head of the MPAA. Of course no conflict there.

     

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

  2.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 10:53am

    In 2012 we should all do one big March in Solidarity to end Corruption in Washington DC.It is affecting all Political Beliefs.
    Every time I read a story of more BS in Washington I get very very angry.
    I AM SICK OF THIS !

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 10:54am

    "what would be an effective lobbying strategy"

    Hmmm... truckloads of cash?

    'Well, he likes truckloads of cash, but just to be safe I think we should go with boatloads of cash this time.'

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 11:04am

    Code Monkey's Fix

    An easy proposed new law:

    If you've ever worked as a lobbyist, you may never work for the government.

    If you've ever worked for the government, you may never work as/for/near/with a lobbying firm/agent/agency/et al.


    Just a thought...

     

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

  5.  
    icon
    Joe Publius (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 11:11am

    Re: "what would be an effective lobbying strategy"

    "Why use boats when we have this nice empty yacht laying around."

    *stuff stuff*

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    Joe Publius (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 11:17am

    Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    You know normally I'd be against this, but my faith in politicians is at an all-time low, and the problems too obvious.

    There's just no room in this process to allow politicians to become "historians, advisors, lobbyists, liasons, relations officers, etc".

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 11:21am

    Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    The 1st amendment makes it difficult to make laws that dictate who can or cannot petition the government.

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 11:22am

    S.O.S

     

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

  9.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    To be fair, it's sort of like jury exemptions.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Loki, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 11:25am

    The main problem is that most people don't have an easy or convenient way (at least that they are made aware of) to find out any significant information on serious alternatives to the democrats or republicans.

    I remember querying hundred of people about the Presidential candidates in the 2004 election. About 80% could only name the "big 2", most of the rest could only name Ralph Nader, and about 90% of the ones who could name an alternate candidate had no idea what their platform was, just their name.

    Hell, when Bendarik and Cobb were arrested in St. Louis (for attempting to enter a "non-partisan" debate that was really only a bi-partisan debate), I saw next to no news coverage of the event, and a very small percentage of people I knew were even aware of the event.

    Simply because most of the main news outlets supported one of the big 2, and none of them wanted to give any opportunity for alternates to even get their name out there.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 11:25am

    Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    Yup, let's limit people's right to work. That will help.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 11:36am

    The same aide?

    I wonder if Halataei was the same aide that was quoted ( http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111206/09551716990/as-expected-sopa-supporters-hate-more-reasonab le-alternative.shtml ) as not liking the alternative Issa/Wyden bill.

     

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

  13.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 11:38am

    Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    If you've ever worked as a lobbyist, you may never work for the government. If you've ever worked for the government, you may never work as/for/near/with a lobbying firm/agent/agency/et al.

    This already exists. It is 18 USC 203, which prohibits government employees from using their employment to benefit themselves. It is what keeps rank-and-file employees from doing this. Most employees have to wait 18-months or 2-years before they can go to work for the companies they are involved in at the government, and prohibits them from going to work on projects that they worked on while they were employees. The problem, as always, is that the rule of law exists but it isn't enforced.

    Government employees have to attend yearly training on "Ethics" which this is a part of. However, I don't believe congressional staffers are required to take the training or abide by the rules (not sure why -- but since Congress makes the rules, they tend to opt-out of most of them.)

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 11:42am

    Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    There is no reason on earth to ban lobbyists.
    It would in fact to be wrong not to mention impossible to nail down the position with interfering with people's inalienable rights.

    What needs to be banned are donations to politicians.
    If there is no money in it, there will be far less potential for corruption.

     

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

  15.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 11:43am

    Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    Boo fucking hooo for them Yes lets do:
    http://www.legistorm.com/person/Allison_Elizabeth_Beach_Halataei/36180.html

    http://www.legis torm.com/person/Lauren_Ann_Pastarnack/21903.html

    Wonder how much they get paid now in helping to sell out America?

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    justin, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    I think you got this flipped around. I as an individual can make a donation to my candidate but I can't get there ear on a certain issue. Lobbyists have there ear and can take them on vacations. Who is the candidate or senator going to hear. My limited $200 donation or they guy they just spent the weekend with getting blow jobs from asian whores?

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Travis, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 12:15pm

    Uhmmm

    "American politics is a disaster."

    No shit... and you can probably include Canada in that too, since where America goes, Canada gets led by the nose... for better OR WORSE

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

    'American politics is a disaster.'

    unfortunately, politics is a disaster in many more countries than just the US. the difference is that most of those other countries dont promote democracy, condemn regimes for being dictatorships and shutting down free speech whilst doing the opposite!

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    "The 1st amendment makes it difficult to make laws that dictate who can or cannot petition the government."

    So the only time the government would care about not crapping on the 1st amendment is when they need it to ensure their right to screw us for pay?

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 12:44pm

    Re:

    I'm down. Tell me when!

     

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

  21.  
    icon
    Joe Publius (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    Think of my opposition to this revolving door as based in the clear conflicts of interest that are intrinsic to these situations, and the rampant ingnorance of them.

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    Joe Publius (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    Think of my opposition to this revolving door as based in the clear conflicts of interest that are intrinsic to these situations, and the rampant ingnorance of them.

     

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

  23.  
    icon
    Joe Publius (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    Think of my opposition to this revolving door as based in the clear conflicts of interest that are intrinsic to these situations, and the rampant ingnorance of them.

     

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

  24.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    But as the RIAA, ExxonMobil and many others have done before, the law only applies to the worthless peons at the bottom.

     

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

  25.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Supplemental data

    Wow, ONE missed bracket causes one problem in all blue text. Sorry folks, messed up on that.

     

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

  26.  
    icon
    Cixelsid (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 1:56pm

    Re:

    Think ahead and bring gasmasks for the inevitable random pepper spraying that will occur.

     

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

  27.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 2:08pm

    And... as soon as they are out of office, they'll be working for them.

     

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

  28.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    The 1st amendment makes it difficult to make laws that dictate who can or cannot petition the government.

    For *individual citizens* - there is no guaranteee for corporations or organizations or any rights, in the constitution in any event.

    Problem now is the 'voice' of a corporation, lobby, or organization is heard far above that of any individual, which is contrary to the concept of the Constitution.

     

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

  29.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Dec 9th, 2011 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    the law only applies to the worthless peons at the bottom.

    Well, certainly everyone in government outside of Congressional Staffers and cabinet positions.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Angry Voter, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 5:12pm

    The key to China's economic success

    is that they have the death penalty for corruption.

    They execute people in front of their family and neighbors for maximum social impact.

    That plastic in the milk guy? Executed in front of his family.

    China had a bank failure. They executed the CEO. They haven't had any more.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 5:50pm

    I had the same feeling when Google evangelist, Andrew McLaughlin was named as a White House technology advisor. But then I realized that government needs experts from business (even sleaze-weasels like McLaughlin) and business needs experts from government. Non-complete clauses in contracts are bullshit and no one should be able to tell me who I can work for.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    crusty chris, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 6:26pm

    america, past its prime

    A few years from now, when America's currency is worth less than the Mexican pesos, you will be able to see this as another bit of forensic evidence of the government's decline at the expense of It's citizens, orchestrated by a fraction of the people it is supposed to represent.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    bigpicture, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 6:32pm

    Guy Fawkes

    And they wonder why Guy Fawkes came up with his idea? The Corrupt can't be reformed they must forcibly restrained or destroyed.

    The ancient Israelites never tried to integrate those they conquered into their own values and customs simply because it is not possible. The result would only be dilution of any upright values they had. So they literally totally wiped them out, so that their corrupt culture and history is all but forgotten. Right or wrong that was their wisdom and rationale.

    So how are you going to stop the corruption in Washington? How are you going to stop the Bankster and Wall Street corruption? With peaceful "occupations" and "sit-ins"? Was there any wisdom at all in the Founding Fathers guaranteeing the right to bear arms against injustice and tyranny?

    At least in the "Arab Spring" they may not know what they want, but they know they don't want what they have.

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2011 @ 7:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    Boo fucking hooo for them Yes lets do:
    http://www.legistorm.com/person/Allison_Elizabeth_Beach_Halataei/36180.html

    http://www.legis torm.com/person/Lauren_Ann_Pastarnack/21903.html

    Wonder how much they get paid now in helping to sell out America?


    Sounds like someone is feeling a bit inadequate over his assistant manager job at Radio Shack.

     

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

  35.  
    identicon
    Alper, Dec 10th, 2011 @ 12:50am

    Re: america, past its prime

    it would be really wrong to say such a thing, just imagine China Central Bank over 1 billion $ ,

     

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

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2011 @ 5:46am

    Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    Those too, but ultimately, just make lobbying illegal. It SHOULD be illegal. Legalized bribe is still bribe. Just because they made it so the law allows them to do it, doesn't mean it's moral or right, and in the interest of the American citizen.

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    Renee Marie Jones, Dec 10th, 2011 @ 7:12am

    Corruption

    No, it does not just *look* corrupt. It *IS* corrupt. Congress is letting people write laws that benefit themselves. I can't think of anything more sickening or corrupt. In an honest society the lobbyists and the executives at the MPAA and NMPA would immediately go to prison for decades.

     

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

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2011 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    Ugh. So it's more important to protect one person's right to one particular job than to prevent corruption?

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2011 @ 9:07am

    Lauren Pastarnack's Twitter name is @lpastarnack

    Encourage her to not let the revolving door hit her in the ass on her way out.

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    artp, Dec 10th, 2011 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    I support the First Amendment. Of course, I don't support getting paid to exercise it.

    If someone wants to express their opinion, they are free to do so. Don't confuse that with wanting to get paid for it. Money is not your life-blood, nor is it the life-blood of any country.

    So lobbyists should not have a right to access to government. At all. Corporations are not people, and do not deserve better access to government than individuals. That is putting money ahead of citizenship. That old meme of "make it easy for the rich, and they will create jobs" that has been in effect since Reagan came on the scene should be pretty well tattered, discredited and retired by now, don't you think? At least it should be if you look at the results. I remember when there were manufacturing plants all over America.

    The interesting (and debatable) question that comes up is "What do you do with people who are rich enough to do this "for free"? What about corporate CEOs who just want to talk to "their" Senator or Representative? Perhaps they shouldn't be allowed to talk about "their" company or its interests?

    Money has gotten so entrenched in the last 40 years (and there was a battle going on long before that) that it will take a very painful effort to change things.

    The question is: Are Americans willing to put aside their self-interest enough to make this nation work again? The last time that this was really expressed forcefully was when John F. Kennedy (with all his faults) told us "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!" is this too old-fashioned and uncool to work today? Would Steve Jobs endorse it? Or Bill Gates or Larry Ellison? Or investment bankers or Insurance company CEOs?

    It's time for a change. I am embarrassed that my generation (Baby Boomers) was on watch when this happened.

     

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

  41.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Dec 10th, 2011 @ 4:17pm

    Re:

    She's protected her tweets. And her followers.

     

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

  42.  
    icon
    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Dec 11th, 2011 @ 7:31am

    Re: The key to China's economic success

    Actually, they only execute people for corruption when they fail to pass a certain percentage of the proceeds upstream and instead keep it all for themselves. Bad. Very bad. You would think if they had any intelligence at all that they would have foreseen the consequences of their folly. Darwin at work. The plastic in the milk guy? Didn't send the money upstairs. Same for the bank failure guy. This is how things work all around the world, and not just in China.

     

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

  43.  
    identicon
    Val, Dec 11th, 2011 @ 11:05am

    I don't understand how lobbyists sleep at night. How can you rationalize a vocation whose sole purpose is to thwart democracy and strangle the rights of the underprivileged? Psychopathic monsters, all of them.

     

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

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2011 @ 1:05pm

    Our founding fathers are rolling in their graves. It will never change. Serving your government has now turned into a lifetime career in the good old boy network. Legal Payoffs and bribery are Fed's modus operandi now.

     

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

  45.  
    icon
    Paddy Duke (profile), Dec 13th, 2011 @ 7:09am

    Re: Re: Code Monkey's Fix

    This.

    Legal lobbying give massive advantages to the wealthy and to established groups.

    Without lobbyists and corporate donations, the main driving force behind political decisions will be voter opinion. While the voting majority might not always want what’s best for them, at least they could get what they want.

     

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

  46.  
    identicon
    Last Sane Person on Earth, Dec 15th, 2011 @ 4:16pm

    Bwahahah

    I give up on this world. We will destroy ourselves in the not so distant future. I see no way around it.

     

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

  47.  
    identicon
    Misaki Ki, Dec 26th, 2011 @ 4:44pm

    Yep, as said a few times in here, taken directly from the playbook play by play.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This