Some Data On How Much The Big Media Firms Are Donating To SOPA/PIPA Sponsors

from the money-in-politics-explains-all dept

The Sunlight Foundation decided to take a look at donations from big media companies to politicians supporting SOPA and PIPA… and, not surprisingly, they found there’s lots of money there. Of course, to be fair, I would imagine the reverse is becoming true as well: those opposed to the bills have and will be getting donations from people who, you know, actually like the internet. Some will call it corruption, but it seems more like a systemic problem, and it’s not clear which came first — support for certain types of bills… or donations. But once the process starts, it’s hard to get out of that cycle. Those who have received big donations from certain industries want that to continue. And, of course, as Lessig is fond of pointing out these days, part of the game is to be a politician “on the fence” so you can raise money from both sides on a controversial issue.

Either way, what’s clear is that big media firms have spread their money around pretty far and wide:

Among the 25 SOPA cosponsors from both sides of the aisle, here’s a breakdown of which legislators have brought in donations from big media in TV, music and movies during their careers in Congress.

The nearly 40 cosponsors of the Protect IP Act, SOPA’s partner legislation in the Senate, have received more than $13.5 million from the TV, music and movies industry since entering Congress. Here’s a rundown:

So how do we get out of this cycle? You get continued and effective rent seeking when politicians feel indebted to a few big companies with powerful lobbying arms. It’s pretty clear that the American public doesn’t like it. So when and how does it stop?

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Comments on “Some Data On How Much The Big Media Firms Are Donating To SOPA/PIPA Sponsors”

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104 Comments
silentchasm (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why is this legal?

From my understanding, it’s money that is donated to help get that politician re-elected. Without those funds, they can’t pay for campaign staff and effectively plaster TV/Newspapers/the Internet with messages that say ‘vote for me for congress/senate’. Therefore if they get money and they don’t vote a certain way, they may not get more of the money needed to get re-elected from that company, or worse (for them), the company may give that money to their opponent, causing them to lose their seat to someone else that would likely be more willing to support what the company wants (for fear of the same happening to them later).

They’re supposedly unconnected, but just think of getting thousands of dollars of support from someone would affect how much you listen to them.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Re: Why is this legal?

1bribe noun ˈbrīb
1
: money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust
2
: something that serves to induce or influence

both the transitive and intransitive verbs are simply the application of the bribe

2lobby verb
lob?bied lob?by?ing

Definition of LOBBY

intransitive verb
: to conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation

transitive verb
1
: to promote (as a project) or secure the passage of (as legislation) by influencing public officials
2
: to attempt to influence or sway (as a public official) toward a desired action

So according to Merriam-Webster, the only real difference between the two is that one is specific to legislation and public officials. I guess bribery is wrong because it works on anyone in a position of trust, not just lawmakers.

ethorad (profile) says:

Only one side?

As you comment, the other side who are fighting SOPA/PIPA could be receiving money from internet companies etc.

However the “other side” I’d like to see is what the contributions are from big media to the neutrals and anti-SOPA/PIPA politicians. A lot of the amounts in the list above are fairly flat (especially around 250k for PIPA support). Is it just that there’s a fairly blanket contribution of around 250k from big media?

One way to show this could be to show the average big media contribution to a politician in each house. Does anyone know that?

MrWilson says:

Re: Only one side?

A good contrast is to look at the amounts and sources of contributions to someone like Ron Wyden:

http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=2012&cid=n00007724&type=I&newmem=N

His biggest contributor is Nike at only $42k. He gets almost as much from local businesses like Lithia Motors and local law firms as he does from big corporations (Nike, Intel, Blue Cross/Blue Shield being the most notable).

The Old Man in The Sea says:

Remove the opportunity for bribery

Simply remove the legalised bribery (political contributions) that any sitting or prospective politician can obtain. Put all of them before the people to fully explain their views and stands. No political advertisements from any source and possibly have each sitting or prospective politician go out and get a minimum number of registered voters that will support that person directly. Anything would be better than what is currently done.

Oh and any person wanting to be a member of the parliament would need to sell all goods and chattels that they or their respective spouse or partners have (no opportunity to give anything into the safe keeping of another person) and put this into the government treasury with a minimum wage being given to them and living in the local public housing and using public transport. As well ensure that no accruing benefits arising from extra years of “service”.

This would sort out the wolves from the pack – maybe.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Remove the opportunity for bribery

Maybe a bit too drastic. How about this:

You cannot donate directly to any politician/party – you can however donate to a political support fund. At the same time you register where you wish to place your support.

The total pot of money donated then gets divided up in proportion to the number of registered supporters each politician/party has.

That way you can donate as much as you like – but your influence is limited the same way your vote is limited.

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Remove the opportunity for bribery

I theorised a double-blind collective donation system, where donations were assigned at random to people who were running for election. Some American posters of the forum I made it on shot it down, on the grounds that corruption is an essential part of the system, otherwise you’d have communists running the country.

It’s a rather bizarre argument when you consider that the current system is most likely going to lead to a revolt.

ethorad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Remove the opportunity for bribery

Agreed – if the public feel that taxation is too high, and representation is focusing on corporate interests there could well be a revolt. Stranger things have happened!

First though you need some sort of a slogan regarding the desired link between taxation and representation. Any ideas?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

We have the perfect platforms to educate people about their politicians, what they are voting on, and who is bribing … err ehem … funding their election campaigns. Facebook and Google+ offer us unprecedented connectivity to create an app that puts everything in one place. The politicians voting record, the constitutionality of the laws having been voted upon, the ability to directly contact your politician, the bills coming up for a vote, and the ability to spread the word about upcoming legislation.

All in all, we have the ability to put them under a microscope, and keep them there.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re:

We need something more significant than having more voter participation. Many of the people who don’t vote would vote for the corrupt politicians if they did vote and that could offset the benefit of having more voters who opposed the corruption in the system.

What we need is a ranked voting system. Currently, you either vote Democrat or Republican because you’re either brainwashed to a particular ideology or you’re voting for the lesser of two evils, or you’re voting for an independent as a symbolic but ultimately futile gesture.

People need to be able to vote without being scared that they’re wasting their time. That would get more people to vote. That would also get more independent politicians to run and get elected.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Step 1. Fund the campaigns for both parties’ candidates.
Step 2. The winner betrays the people who elected him and writes laws that benefit you at the expense of everyone else.
Step 3. Give the former winner a job with you when he gets voted out of office.

We have judges that are former lobbyists giving rulings on laws that they helped push through.
If we protest this situation, the media calls us “terrorists” and police in riot gear pepper spray us. Congress is trying to pass legislation that would instead allow the military to detain us indefinitely.

gorehound (profile) says:

This is the only reason I liked OWS.Corruption and Big Money married to Government.I am voting smarter.We need people in Government who won’t take more than $500 and will support Term Limits.
If that does not happen I will march on Washington if others will.I no longer care if I get chucked in a jail.Been there before and at least it is warm and I get 3 meals a day.What else can you do ?
The Government Officials do not care about us for the most part.Both of the Parties are Corrupt.Start Voting Independent maybe ?

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

*sigh*

Citizens United didn’t change how much a politician can received in campaign contributions. It simply said that the government was not allowed to prohibit speech by an organization (corporations included) merely because that speech was political in nature. It didn’t say money was speech, it said speech was speech.

I seriously wish people would read about the case before they go off on it because of what they heard someone say it was about.

Jeff (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Regardless – the result is the same, an less-restricted flow of money from those who can afford to “purchase” a campaign contribution. The cycle of raise money/win election/raise money, continues at an ever increasing rate – the end result is a drowning out of the vox-populi as the whores we elect seek to ‘optimize’ their fund-raising efforts. Bottom line: Citizens United broke an already broken system and released the Kraken…

Jeff (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Regardless – the result is the same, a less-restricted flow of money from those who can afford to “purchase” a campaign contribution. The cycle of raise money/win election/raise money, continues at an ever increasing rate – the end result is a drowning out of the vox-populi as the whores we elect seek to ‘optimize’ their fund-raising efforts. Bottom line: Citizens United broke an already broken system and released the Kraken…

Pete Austin says:

Conflict of Interest

Representatives with a financial interest should recuse themselves, as judges already do. “In the Supreme Court of the United States, the Justices typically voluntarily recuse themselves from participating in cases in which they have a financial interest. For example, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor generally did not participate in cases involving telecommunications firms because she owned stock in such firms, while Justice Stephen Breyer has disqualified himself in some cases involving insurance companies because of his participation in a Lloyd’s of London syndicate.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicial_disqualification

Joe Publius (profile) says:

Re: Conflict of Interest

Representatives with a financial interest should recuse themselves, as judges already do.

Sadly impractical, IMO. Some of these corporations just spread the money around evenly in order to “cover all the bases”. If every rep with a financial interest recused, they might not be able to constitute a quorum to vote at all.

Liz (profile) says:

Math isn’t my greatest subject, but adding all of that up, I get $17,185,892.

$17,185,892 =

859,294 meals at $20 a plate
245,512 trips to the gas station at $3.50 gallon regular gasoline (20gal purchase)
179,019 months of home electricity at $96 (920kwh)
21,482 months of rent at $800
24,551 months of groceries for a family of 4 at $700
17,680 months of daycare service for young children at $972
687 Four-door sedans at $25,000
603 Semesters of private non-profit college tuition at $28,500
114 Fully paid 3-bedroom, 2-bath homes at $150,000

Averages via quick Google search.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: term limits

Careful – term limits might impose another unexpected consequence:

Instead of passing laws in return for donations, legislators might start passing laws in return for high-paying private sector jobs once their term is up.

We already see this revolving door effect where public figures land high-paying private jobs after propping up certain industries, and vice-versa – we see those same industries producing people in public positions.

Liz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

If the content creators under the major labels would give the people reasonable offers, with reasonable prices, at the ease and convenience that is afforded by ‘other’ services – then they would reap the benefits far more than the lock-down manner which is commonplace.

It isn’t failing because of people who ignore the law. It is failing because of the people who write those laws and pay off government officials to have them enacted.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The IP economy isn’t failing – it is being undermined by those who choose to ignore the law. The demand for IP is huge, should the creators not be recompensed for creating something that so many people want?

The supposed purpose of the IP economy is to drive the real economy. You can’t eat IP so if IP is all we have everyone will die of starvation!

There is no moral justification for IP. People who believe there is are the sad victims of 300 years of brainwashing by vested interests.

If you read the history of the subject you will find that IP has it’s origins in royal patronage, intended to buy loyalty. In fact if you look at recent developments you will see that little has changed on that score!

Copyright and patents were originally justified in both Britain and America on the pretext that they would benefit the common good by encouraging creation of new work. However studies of the reality of the situation have consistently shown that this is false: Read and learn:

There are plenty of ways for creators to be incentivised and paid without a post creation monopoly. Studies of both copyright and patent have shown that such a monopoly is not only unnecessary – it is counter productive. All it does is to encourage corruption and attract greedy profiteers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“The creative economy isn’t failing – it is being undermined by those corporate middlemen who want to introduce artificial scarcity and economic inefficiencies to the market. The demand for creative content is huge, should the true creators (i.e. not the copyright or patent HOLDERS, but the true CREATORS!) not be recompensed for creating something that so many people want?”

Sure, we all want artists to make money. They make stuff which makes the world better. So, I wonder, why do RIAA executives make multi-million dollar salaries?

http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/record-labels/riaa-weighs-in-on-flap-over-executive-salaries-1005198182.story

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I should also point out that it is equally tricky to highlight SOPA, and then point out how much an individual has raised “during their career”, especially without giving relative numbers to work from – such as showing their total fund raising over their career, and how much that is on average of each year of said career.

WTG – the smear machine is working overtime again!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Just like our ‘terrorists’ are their ‘freedom fighters’…
Our ‘bribery’ is their ‘lobbying’…

It makes us feel so much better to label the same action by a different word and pretend that the other person is ‘bad’ for doing the exact same thing we are (but we called it something ‘different’ so that makes us ‘right’ and ‘better’)….

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I should also point out that it is equally tricky to highlight SOPA, and then point out how much an individual has raised “during their career”, especially without giving relative numbers to work from – such as showing their total fund raising over their career, and how much that is on average of each year of said career

You’re making this way too easy for the people like me, the OCD crowd to expose that very thing, with pretty pictures too.

But this is why people invented Maplight, where you can look at that very thing in minute detail.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Republic Lost

You’ll love his talk of/by/4 as well as that of Jack Abramoff in figuring out the system.

Basically, the returns on favorable legislation are phenomenal. For every $1 spent on legislation, the company gains $220 in tax savings. A 22,000% return. Why wouldn’t you want to do it? This is the problem that Larry Lessig is noting that we have to fight. Everyone wants to fight the system, but getting to the root of the problem is to fight the corruption that allows this in the first place.

jessej (profile) says:

controlling the internet

One phenomenon on the internet is having various items go “viral”. This can be a good thing! Consider if millions of eligible voters caught up the notion which is presented on http://www.voidnow.org ? Specifically, we can make a huge change in Congress by Voting Out Incumbants. The old guard incumbants, who keep getting re-elected time after time are basically parasites preying off our voter laziness. The have EVERYTHING to lose if this notion were to go viral. Hence, they must get their clutches on the internet and control/stop it, any way they can.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: controlling the internet

I think that’s dangerous though. This doesn’t look into the gerrymandering nor the problems of our voting system. Rick Boucher was elected out of office because sentiments ran against the Democrats from the financial meltdown. Instead, we need to have these people have Instant Runoff Elections or a dismantling of the electoral system. Further, getting money out of politics would work to make the system better.

What VOID’s main purpose is to have a fresh change in the politics every few years. This can’t happen with fresh faces. What will you do with the lobbyists or members that bribe the new batch of politicians? While voting out incumbents works on a small level, the better result is to change the entire political system.

Barbara Jordan's Ghost says:

When will it stop?

When will it stop? It will stop when the American people demand that it stops. Refuse to elect anyone who accepts corporate money to influence their policy-making. Become involved and aware of your elected offices. Pay attention, speak, and act. And if you think your leaders are doing a bad job, reject them as leaders.

tsavory (profile) says:

Money Trail

I seen that a few wanted to know whats being paid out on the other side and this is the best I could find.

http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h3261/money

Rep. Anna Eshoo [D, CA-14] $74,909
Rep. Howard Berman [D, CA-28] $55,339
Rep. Zoe Lofgren [D, CA-16] $52,359
Rep. Eric Cantor [R, VA-7] $48,950
Rep. John Conyers [D, MI-14] $43,033
Rep. Jerry McNerney [D, CA-11] $42,700
Rep. Dave Reichert [R, WA-8] $42,200
Rep. Darrell Issa [R, CA-49] $33,524
Rep. James Clyburn [D, SC-6] $32,543
Rep. Robert Goodlatte [R, VA-6] $29,519

Sen. Patty Murray [D, WA] $144,673
Sen. Charles Schumer [D, NY] $132,934
Sen. Barbara Boxer [D, CA] $130,224
Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] $115,245
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D, NY] $95,045
Sen. Patrick Leahy [D, VT] $78,670
Sen. Scott Brown [R, MA] $72,106
Sen. Ron Wyden [D, OR] $68,550
Sen. Michael Bennet [D, CO] $59,650
Sen. Robert Portman [R, OH] $48,150

tsavory (profile) says:

PIPA

Sorry forgot to mention that last post was just for the SOPA this is for the PIPA.

http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-s968/money

Sen. Michael Bennet [D, CO] $1,346,579
Sen. Barbara Boxer [D, CA] $402,425
Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] $295,640
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D, NY] $284,849
Sen. Charles Schumer [D, NY] $254,975
Sen. Patty Murray [D, WA] $229,824
Sen. Chris Coons [D, DE] $209,400
Sen. Richard Blumenthal [D, CT] $176,399
Sen. Richard Shelby [R, AL] $159,550
Sen. Ron Wyden [D, OR] $127,450

Rep. William Owens [D, NY-23] $302,109
Rep. Chellie Pingree [D, ME-1] $204,150
Rep. Gary Peters [D, MI-9] $202,770
Rep. Niki Tsongas [D, MA-5] $141,100
Rep. James Himes [D, CT-4] $140,014
Rep. Kurt Schrader [D, OR-5] $106,500
Rep. Jerry McNerney [D, CA-11] $92,560
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords [D, AZ-8] $84,692
Rep. Barney Frank [D, MA-4] $82,100
Rep. Martin Heinrich [D, NM-1] $79,313

hegemon13 says:

How NOT to stop it

I’ll tell you what we don’t do. We don’t give the power to regulate lobbying to the very people receiving the benefits. If we do, it will work just like nearly every other federal regulation: exemptions will be written in for the friends of politicians, who will in turn use the regulations to squash start-ups, small businesses, and competition.

Broadly, this stops when federal power is diminished. The more centralized government power is, the better lobbying looks as an investment, and the more widespread cronyism and corruption becomes. Put another way, if the power is not there to buy, corporations won’t be looking to buy the power. And I’ll guarantee one thing: buying the legislature in all 50 states will be a lot more costly than buying a few federal politicians, with a lot lower return. And that doesn’t even consider items that will be kicked all the way down the the county or local level.

It’s mind-boggling that so many people look at issues like this and say, “More regulations!” It’s regulations that got us here in the first place. How about we leave criminal and civil enforcement up the states, as was originally intended, and the power would not be so easily up for grabs by the highest bidders.

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