Major Political Donors Have Access to TPP Documents. Everyone Else? Not So Much

from the shockingly-unshocking dept

The good folks over at MapLight have taken a look at the members of the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (ITAC-15). As we’ve discussed in the past ITAC 15 is a committee of high powered corporate representatives who are basically the only ones with full access to the text of the intellectual property chapter of the TPP. Those on ITAC 15 are allowed to see the latest text by logging into a system from the comfort of their desks. If Congress wants to see it? No luck. Members of Congress are allowed only to visit the USTR offices, where they’ll be shown a copy of the document in a sealed room. They’re not allowed to bring staff (such as the experts who would understand this stuff). They’re not allowed to take notes or make any copies. Basically, the corporate interests have a lot more oversight over the whole process than Congress does.

So how does one get onto ITAC 15? It’s not easy. Lawyer Andrew Bridges (whose name you might recognize) sought to get onto ITAC 15 as one of the country’s foremost experts on copyright law and its impact on innovation and startups. He was nominated… but denied. But who does get on there? According to MapLight’s analysis, it helps to be a major corporate donor to political campaigns:

  • The 18 organizations represented by ITAC-15 gave nearly $24 million to current members of Congress from Jan. 1, 2003 – Dec. 31, 2012.
  • AT&T has given more than $8 million to current members of Congress, more than any other organization represented by ITAC-15.
  • House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has received $433,350 from organizations represented by ITAC-15, more than any other member of Congress.
  • Democrats in Congress have received $11.4 million from organizations represented by ITAC-15, while Republicans in Congress have received $12.6 million.
  • The members of Congress sponsoring fast-track legislation, which would allow the President to block Congress from submitting amendments to the TPP, have received a combined $758,295 from organizations represented by ITAC-15. They include Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus ($140,601), Senate Finance Committee Ranking Members Orrin Hatch ($178,850), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp ($216,250), House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Chairman Devin Nunes ($86,000), and House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions ($136,594).

I’m sure that’s all just a coincidence, right? If the USTR was really seeking to convince the world that the TPP isn’t just a corporatist power grab to give political crony’s a leg up against innovators, it’s doing a piss poor job of convincing anyone that’s the case.

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Comments on “Major Political Donors Have Access to TPP Documents. Everyone Else? Not So Much”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: $$$

ITACs are not even close to the only place filled with donors and their friends. It is just one of the most open about it.
Andrew Bridges doesn’t represent a “… Sponsoring US entity’s or US organisation’s and its subsector’s interests on trade matter…”, which is word for word most of the first criteria for selection of members for ITAC-15. Buy me privileged influence on the government, baby!

Zonker says:

Call it what it is: bribes. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court appointed by those who make a living from these bribes ruled that bribery is protected free speech under the 1st Amendment. (See Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission allowing creation of Super PACs to contribute unlimited funds to support specific candidate’s campaigns as long as they don’t contribute any money to that candidate’s campaign. Try rereading that until it makes sense because it won’t.)

Everyone may be created equal, but when it comes to free speech corporations and the wealthy are more equal than you.

Anonymous Coward says:

As for whoever purloined and leaked the parts of TPP that were leaked, it was likely easier than you might think.

I just bought a new Android phone, and it turns out that the newest models can trsanfer files between a PC and the phone’s SD memory chip without having to install any drivers.

Because of this, I think it is possible that sommeone working either either the USTR, or any of the MAFFia related companies could have merely connected their phone to their PC, downloaded to their phones, and have no record in the PC itself, because their are no drivers installed.

Because some newer Andoid phones can now transfer files between the phone and a PC, without having to install any drivers, there is no way to disable it.

I also suspect that this is how Ed Snowden was able to steal the classified documents he did. I would suspect that he merely connected his cell phone to his work PC, and merely copied the files onto his SD card.

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