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.

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Companies: mpaa, nmpa

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

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46 Comments
Jay (profile) says:

Supplemental data

Just as a supplement, here’s the corporate lobbyist playbook. Jack Abramoff does one good thing in showing how corruption occurs. In this 15 minute interview, you learn how lobbyists get around the rules and how they can learn to influence with donations and gifts to influence policy makers.

He also goes into the vague language problems that occur and how it’s used effectively to do exactly what lobbyists want.

Remember Mitch Glazier’s disingenuous statements? Right out of the playbook.

Now as I’ve done some research into this, more people> are recognizing the need to team up against this corporate corruption.

?Less government and more power to the people,? says Gilbert Wilkerson, explaining why he joined the executive board of the Richmond Tea Party.

Mark Wood, a middle-aged occupier, echoed the thought: ?To return power to the people ? that?s at the core of it for me.?

Salon and others have pontificated on the convergence of the Tea Party and Occupy agendas. While one blames big government run amok and the other accuses Wall Street, both see a system where power feeds on power at the expense of the common citizen.

So the fact remains that people see the corruption and doing something about it. This is why the protests against political corruption has become so prevalent in the US.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

justin says:

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?

Overcast (profile) says:

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.

artp (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

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.)

Loki says:

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.

The Devil's Coachman (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

bigpicture says:

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.

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