MPAA Hires Four Ex-Federal Government Employees, Including One From ICE & Another From The White House

from the watch-that-revolving-door dept

It appears that the famed “revolving door” between government and the big entertainment industry lobbyists continues. The MPAA has announced four new hires — all of whom come from roles within the government, and who raise significant questions about who they were working for when they were in their government positions.

Alex Swartsel, who has worked for several Democratic senators and campaigns, is the new director of global policy. Brian Cohen, who has worked in the Justice Department and for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is the new director for external state government affairs.

Lauren Pastarnack, who has worked on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is the new director of government affairs. And Kate Bedingfield, who joins the MPAA from the White House Communications Office, is the new director of strategic communications.

Two of these aren’t huge surprises. The Pastarnack hire hit the news a few months ago, when people noticed that she jumped from being a point person on PIPA to working directly for the MPAA. Swartsel’s name may also be familiar. We tangled with her last summer, when she bizarrely took to the MPAA’s blog to attack reporter Janko Roettger for accurately predicting that bad economic news might lead people to seek out unauthorized sources of movies, rather than paying through the nose for authorized versions. Now, the MPAA’s former boss had said the exact same thing, but according to Swartsel it’s somehow “intellectually dishonest” to point out what might happen. Swartsel also was the one who flat out mocked the concerns of tech entrepreneurs concerning SOPA and PIPA. Turns out she did all this as a “consultant” to the MPAA — and they thought she did such a bang up job that they’ve hired her full time as “director of global policy.”

Given her former attacks on reporting the truth and concerns of the tech industry, it seems pretty clear that the MPAA is not moving in the direction of their promised open conversation with the tech industry and internet users concerning solutions to infringement. It sounds like they’re moving in the other direction.

A further indication of that, of course, is the hiring of Cohen, direct from the MPAA’s private police force… better known as ICE. Remember, when ICE launched Operation In Our Sites to illegally seize and censor websites, it did so directly from Disney’s headquarters. The close relationship between ICE and the MPAA should worry everyone. The fact that there’s a revolving door in employment between the two should be cause for an investigation concerning possible corruption. But, of course, that won’t happen… when that kind of revolving door also includes someone like Bedingfield, coming straight out of the White House.

It’s stories like this that make you realize why the MPAA is so powerful. It knows that it has a strong hold on government employees, because it’s offering a bunch of them high paying jobs once they leave their government positions. And, as Jack Abramoff has explained, the best trick in a lobbyist’s pocket is to tell a government employee that there’s a job waiting for them any time in the future — because they’re technically working for the lobbyist from that moment forward.

Filed Under: , , , , , , , ,
Companies: mpaa

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “MPAA Hires Four Ex-Federal Government Employees, Including One From ICE & Another From The White House”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
el_segfaulto (profile) says:

D?j? vu?

We need some new blood in the political parties. Right now the difference between Democrat and Republican is nothing more than color preference in one’s logo. It’s no wonder that voter turnout is lower and lower each year, when you have to choose between two equally sleazy candidates (in any office) it’s simpler to just stay at home. There needs to be a viable option for third, fourth, and fifth parties in this country. If we can purge the false dichotomoy between R and D we may see some force for good for the common person. Until then it’s lawyers fighting lawyers over who gets to feed off of our tax dollars.

Anonymous Coward says:

At this point Obama might as well just make new cabinet departments for them. From this point forward, the MPAA will be known as the Department of Visual Entertainment and the RIAA known as the Department of Aural Entertainment. Hell, why stop there? He can appoint the publishing industry a cabinet post also, hence forth known as the Department if Perusal Arts, and will cover any material that can be read. Once these cabinets positions have been approved, they can uninstall the revolving door as it will no longer be necessary.

al says:

These RIAA/MPAA fools keep talking about lost revenue. Let’s look at this from a national point of view. I found this very nice list of who recieved government bailouts in the pas few years. Have a look.

Out of the hundreds of these bailouts. not one is attributed to “content theft”. They were all do to bad buisness models, and greed of their CEO’s. So maybe The RIAA and MPAA need to look at that. It’s not ‘content theft” that is hurting them, it’s their own leadership.

Someantimalwareguy (profile) says:

D?j? vu?

Still… In order to change the system, we may need some new blood for the Presidency along with changing the rules elsewhere.

The problem here is that there IS no viable replacement for Obama in the current slate of Republican or even third party candidates during the current cycle – unless of course you DO prefer picking the one that survives the clown car experience of the current GOP primaries.

Don’t get me wrong here, Obama has not been the shinning star many thought he would be, but then who is?

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey, you know, we can play the game if you like.

Let’s look at some of the EFF people.

Example, Andrew Bridges, one of the members of the EFF advisory board. Did you know that he”

“served as a law clerk for the Honorable Marvin H. Shoob, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta. The World Intellectual Property Organization’s Mediation and Arbitration Center has selected him as a domain name arbitrator, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has appointed him an early neutral evaluator.”

You may draw your own conclusions. I suspect that most every lawyer at EFF at some time or another worked for the government. Hmm!

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

D?j? vu?

A good start would be to allow a “none of the above” option in voting, and all votes are that way by default. Meaning, if you don’t vote, you’re really voting for none of the above. If a candidate doesn’t get a majority vote (whether the voting system is First-Past-the-Post, Instant-Runoff, or any other voting system), then no candidate gets elected. That guarantees that for a candidate to be elected at least 50.1 % of eligible voters have to cast a ballot at all, much less for that given candidate. In case the none-of-the-above option wins, no one fills the seat. The only concern is that then the bureaucrats will run the government.

Anonymous Coward says:


Well, they did hire these people with no experience in the job at hand, and paid them well all this time. All they’re doing now is stopping paying those people under the table.

Also, I do love how you shills complain in one article that if someone is a part of the tech industry, they’re obviously biased and can’t comment or weigh in on anything going on, but when your companies are buying politicians, those politicians are completely capable of being impartial to their bosses.

gorehound (profile) says:

We really need a Party geared towards cool younger blood who can rile up the over 18 year olds and Vote these old corrupted pricks out on their asses.I am 56 years old but would love to see a Pirate Party or a group of people stand up against the machine.Those that do will get my full support.
We also need to get the real dirt out via hacks or any methods to throw the dirty laundry from MAFIAA/WASHINGTON in the face of the Public.
We need a Wikileaks to attack the MAFIAA and it needs to be done now.
Wish I was a real IT Genius.

Richard (profile) says:


Hey, you know, we can play the game if you like.

Actually you can’t – and you just proved it.

EFF is a non-profit.

Look at how much the EFF pays and compare it with what Mr Bridges could earn working in the corporate sector.

Those official appointments you mention are also not a way to get rich.

You just painted a picture of a moral man, working for the public interest at the expense of his own bank balance.

Anonymous Coward says:

I like the article in Forbes magazine that basically said, HEY, you don’t want to work with us…fine we’ll make our own entertainment industry and bypass you dinosaurs.
Let’s make them irrelevant. The next generation is ready to respond and with equipment small and better and CHEAPER they?ll be screaming foul all the way to the poor house.
I got your piracy right here dinosaurs.


Hardly a surprise

The behavior of the MPAA is no surprise. Way, way back in the 1980’s when they were goosing the FBI to scare the hell out of film collectors and confiscating everybodies prints, the MPAA, or at least their precursors in the “pirate harassing business” were hiring the FBI agents who were the most cooperative. So agents who had been assigned to the low level threat of film collectors, and who probably had bleak prospects for stellar careers in law enforcement, got well paying jobs as long as they did the bidding of movie studios. Now, instead of hiring cops, they hire government wonks. In the 80’s we got pretty good at hiding our film prints. I guess we can be thankful that dvds are a lot easier to conceal.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

D?j? vu?

Better still, eliminate corporate and group speech. Individual speech is OK, but group speech is not. That takes out political parties, unions, special interest groups, **AA’s, etc. Then remove money from politics entirely by funding all elections in full by the government. Then anyone could run, not just the moneyed ‘princes’. The Internet could make this pretty cheap.

Jay (profile) says:

D?j? vu?

Ron’s foreign policy and civil liberty issues are good.

But he’s just as bad for presidential nominations to an already extremely conservative court as well as continuing with income inequality. Mind you, I’d have rather voted for Johnson personally and I probably will, wasting my vote in our two party electoral system. The point here is that we need a new way to have 3rd party candidates have some sort of presence and punish political parties. Whether that’s with a Mixed Member proportion party, a removal of the electoral system, or just plain moving to instant runoff votes, the key issue is that there is no way that two parties can accurately represent the entire population in all areas of government.

Jason says:

Re: Re:

You just violated my breathing rights.

What? I was just breathing.

Yeah, but I already breathed that air. It’s mine now and you’re stealing it.

But you’re not losing anything by letting me breath.

Only my god-given right to control who does what with my air that I breathed with my own blood sweat and tears, you damned pirate!!!

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

D?j? vu?

How do you remove group speech without removing protests like the million man march or the occupy movement or the civil rights marches or women’s suffrage movement. The first amendment rightly specifically protects the freedom to assemble, and what is the use of assembling together if you are not also allowed to speak together?

Rather than removing the speech, I’d rather more speech. All politicians must at all times display where their funding is coming from (much like Nascar), and every time they vote they must first state on the record who lobbied them, how much was spent or offered, and what the position they were lobbied for was.

Anonymous Coward says:


That’s what Anonymous says they try to do. Unfortunatley both their targets and methods don’t do much good other than put themselves at risk for a very long time.

If anything that may be the point. The US is criminalizing an entire generation and more (I’m in the same age range) with their policies.

I would think the prohibition and the unwinnable, endless drug war would have been enough to prove that a government can’t make average things that average people do – illegal.

But I guess those SWAT teams need employment too. I wonder if they have Blackwater (AXE) on contract for this too?

What else is there to spend money on?

Anonymous Coward says:


Welcome aboard. Do you want a list of fan-friendly net labels or sites to web only series? I can assure you, the public and non-MAFIAA is just as talented (usually more so) than what your already used to.

Less than 30% of music content is RIAA member associated according to independent label associations. That figure is not including self-published. If you go to the RIAA website they still claim 90% and offer a list of “approved” online retailers that excludes most of the websites that feature independents like bandcamp, cd baby, artist direct and others.

Don’t forget they want to add .music so that only “accredited” musicians have access to the internet.

Just look at Blogger DMCA take downs for music blogs. The majority featured “non-commercial” music – independents and out-of-print or no digital copy available. The ones featuring the new stuff are left untouched. This has been going on for decades. The most popular torrents are often 20+ years old. RIAA doesn’t want competion in a very BIG way – at any cost.

You can numerous instances where they signed a band and told them “bye” – they just didn’t want the competition for a band they are promoting. The newly signed band now can’t play their music to get rent money. If they do try and buy rights back, it’ll cost them the price of a house even when the label has no intention of ever publishing a thing. That’s just one tactic.

And don’t forget, most of the labels got started on “stolen musi”. Just trace the roots of Led Zepplin, Beetles, Rolling Stones … Disney started with public domain stories, paradoies of popular culture. There is NOTHING NEW.

One tool that is available to raise public awareness is the HATRED of the puke put out for public consumption. 200 channels with nothing on? That’s nothing compared to what they would like to do with the internet.

Afterall, they killed radio with “pay for play”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hardly a surprise

They’ve gotten whole libraries of film sold to them. Specifically the Smithsonian, which is 75% taxpayer supported, sold the rights to Showtime. Ken Burns has said he could not have made his historical series without those clips. Research “Eyes on the Prize” that was fine when it was made, then became illegal because generations of people were not identifiable.

Why do I owe generations from a piece of work? And often were not even paying the original creator’s, but people who bought rights (property) for it.

This has put a real quash on independent film-making. A brand name appearing in the background, identifiable or not, means a re-shoot or being held hostage for rights from whatever brand. Music isn’t as easily controlled as film.

How do archiologists judge a society? Often by it’s culture. They want the public as consumers and not creators.

Anonymous Coward says:


EFF is non-profit, but they are also somewhat beholden to their contributors, such as Sergey Brin (via his foundation). EFF isn’t the sort of neutral “fight for freedom” group they once were, now they seem to be more of an issue oriented lobbying group. I sort of think of it as the Lessig Effect.

That companies like Google tend to do their lobbying through proxies rather than directly sort of tells the tale, and is why I chose to mention them.

Anonymous Coward says:



But all those guys are bought out by Google now. Look at that horrible company’s numbers- good lord. That ginormous pile of money to throw around to do their lobbying.

The rumor that there is no pertinent online voice that hasn’t seen Google bucks, somehow becomes so much more believable. They hide it really well. But thankfully there is a lot of investigative digging going on now- thanks to the SOPA protest scam.

Anonymous Coward says:


Of course they are.

Wikipedia’s SOPA blackout was bought by Google; look at the numbers Mr. Google Billionaire has thrown at them in the past couple years.


Wikipedia survives entirely on funding from Google.

Of course they were going to go political and black out their page.

Their corporate masters, who feed at the trough of piracy would not allow any other kind of behavior.

Jimmy Wales couldn’t survive without that money. They own him.

They know, and so does he, that the parasites don’t want to pay for anything.

“Innovation”. lol

Jay (profile) says:

Déjà vu?

It wouldn’t work based on the current electoral system that is heavily skewed towards being a Democrat or Republican. Sure, you can vote third party, but under the First past the Post system, we end up with minority rule. In essence, if you can get more votes for a candidate, you win, even though the majority may want someone else. The rules impede democratic process in order to keep only two parties in power.

It’s a huge reason why I have to say that Lessig or even Abramoff are truly misguided in trying to just fight the money. Let’s say that they accomplish their goal of turning back Citizens United. The Karl Roves of the US would find another way to undermine that decision. What they haven’t done is allow more people to become engaged in the political process. They haven’t done anything to fight how criminals get a right to vote. They haven’t done anything to expose the problems of private prisons. They really haven’t done anything to fight the underlying problems of the “money is speech” vote. And that’s find a far better democratic system that removes (or at least limits) corruption. That’s where I disagree with the underlying premise of Lessig.

What I would propose is an alternative vote, which takes away the minority rule issue that we in the US currently face. You can vote in order of preference, and it forces politicians to do one thing… Listen to their constituents.

Finally, in order to get over the representative disproportionment in Congress, I would propose a Mixed member proportion system. Reason being, you have more people, but then you have more representation based on political parties. This forces political parties to respond to what their constituents are saying and not outside forces.

So in effect, by changing the system, you force the republic to be that much stronger. But having only two parties in government is the worst decision we can continue to have..

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...