Days Before Doing Verizon's Bidding, Ajit Pai Gives A Talk At Verizon

from the drain-the-swamp dept

So, either no one at the FCC gives a shit any more or there’s no one there with the slightest perspective on how this might look, but earlier today, Ajit Pai gave a talk at Verizon. Pai, as you know, used to be Verizon’s deputy General Counsel — though that was a while ago, and just because he used to work there doesn’t necessarily mean he would be regulating in their interest. However, basically every move that Pai has taken since becoming chair of the FCC has been exactly what Verizon has asked for, no matter how ridiculous. Given that, you’d think at least someone in his office would have the sense to say “perhaps talking at Verizon just days before giving them a HUGE gift in destroying net neutrality is… not a good look.”

But, in these “drain the swamp” times, apparently it’s totally fine to give a talk at the company whose bidding you are doing, against the interests of the public, just days before you do it. That it looks corrupt as hell doesn’t matter, because this is Washington DC. Specifically, Pai spoke at the International Institute of Communications’ Telecomunications & Media Forum event that is not only held at Verizon’s DC offices, but heavily sponsored by Verizon:

Not only that, but Pai’s talk was sandwiched between two different Verizon execs, as if to just drive home the giant “fuck you!” Verizon and Pai are saying to the public and what they think of everyone.

It’s almost as if he’s gloating about just how much he’s become Verizon’s pet regulator. Even if there’s nothing officially “wrong” here, this is yet another example of what Larry Lessig has called “soft corruption”, where these actions — even if aboveboard — present such a strong sense of corruption that it makes the public trust our government even less. Ajit Pai may not care that the public doesn’t trust him, but giving a talk at Verizon right now just cements in many people’s minds that he’s looking out for them, and not us.

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Companies: verizon

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Comments on “Days Before Doing Verizon's Bidding, Ajit Pai Gives A Talk At Verizon”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Re: But I don't trust your "us", either, Google-boy!

Even if it was the case (not, TD has criticized Google plenty of times already) there are two important distinctions: Mike is clearly disclaiming the sponsors and he is not the head of the regulating body responsible for, you know, regulating his sponsors.

It’s not that you don’t trust, you just have a severe psychiatric issue that causes ill obsession by something, in your case Mike.

Anonymous Coward says:

Even worse than appearing in public, we’ve got to wonder what sort of communications Ajit Pai is having with his former company, and what sort of deals are being made behind closed doors.

The way he’s been maintaining old contacts, one thing seems almost certain: that he’ll be working for Verizon again once he leaves the FCC, either as a direct employee or through his own “consulting” company .

Because isn’t cashing-in the American Way?

Chuck says:


Wow. Who would’ve thought we’d be longing for the days of Tom Wheeler, former Comcast CEO, as head of the FCC?

No, really.

I mean, I’m not sure if this means the Obama Administration was refreshingly un-corrupt or the Trump Administration has sunk so low it’s unearthed levels of corruption not seen since ancient Egypt, but either way. I genuinely want Tom Wheeler back in as FCC Chairman. How f**ked up is that?

aerinai says:

Re: Nostalgia

Before his tenure in the FCC, he worked for the CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association) from ’92 – ’04.

I heard him make an interesting pitch. Lots of people thought he was ‘in the pocket’ of Big Telecom, but when he was working there, he was actually working for the ‘little guy’. The incumbent MCIs and AT&Ts of the time were landline. Cellular was just a nascent technology competing in a brave new world (Seriously… who had cell phones in 1992???). He worked to foster regulations that were friendly to this new ‘mobile phone’ thing and he brought that mantra to the FCC to do the same thing. He wasn’t the ‘baby-eating-dingo’ people thought he was. He understood the struggles of small companies trying to compete.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Grasping at straws.

He acknowledges this in the article (which you obviously did not fully read). He also points out that the IIT is heavily funded by Verizon. He also states that this is not evidence of corruption but it certainly makes it seem like it is.

And no, “Tommy Wheeler” didn’t do cable and mobile bidding while he was head of the FCC. If you will recall, he is the one who flipped the tables on them and re-wrote the proposed net neutrality rules into the much stronger consumer-friendly rules we have today.

Try again Richard.

Dave Cortright (profile) says:

If I had $1,000,000,000…

It’s fun to fantasize the stuff I could do with a lot of money. One awesome scenario would be to find out the company that provide internet service to the FCC, buy them, and then “free market” the heck out of their connection. Completely block all traffic to and from Verizon, AT&T and all the other big telcos unless they buy the “just desserts” package for only $999,999/month. Any maybe just randomly slow down service, accidentally misdirect emails over to The Intercept and Wikileaks, have unschedule service windows during peak business hours… What are they going to do, sue me? Ha!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

horse with no name, like his heroes in John Steele, Ajit Pai and Shiva Ayyadurai, rely on the exploitation of dead people to pad their numbers.

Dead people aren’t qualified to have Internet service but they apparently qualify to get sued for music they didn’t download, or support Pai to kill net neutrality in an anti-piracy-silver-bullet movement.

But what did you expect from a Prenda/Ayyadurai fanboy?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Was Wheeler doing so days before handing the companies involved a massive gift in the form of gutting rules they’d been fighting for years on end, after having spent months lying to people about how he was really doing it for the public rather than the companies?

If TD didn’t have as strong a response to Wheeler doing something similar it might be due to the different circumstances involved. Just maybe.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Not acting as a tool and falling all over himself to serve the very industry he’s supposed to be keeping in check? Not speaking at an event sponsored largely by one of the very companies he’s about to provide a massive handout too literally days before he does it?

Yeah, go figure, can’t imagine why TD would have a problem with the circumstances surrounding Pai speaking at this event yet not come down as hard on the evil Wheeler for speaking under different circumstances.

(And let’s be real here, if a group of senators was planning on writing regulations regarding say Google, and one of them took a speaking position sponsored by the company days before the vote, you really want me to believe you wouldn’t be flipping your lid? Because that’s what’s happening here, and yet the best you can come up with is a whataboutism regarding Wheeler.)

MyNameHere (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

One look down the list of Wheeler addresses (he made about 2 dozen in 2015 alone, and that doesn’t account for other appearances, meetings, etc) I am pretty sure that he was in front of one or another industry group with “sponsorship” from one of the many companies involved.

The event was sponsored in part by Verizon. The event in an annual event for the industry. Wheeler has spoken at it before.

In fact, if you look at the full agenda (rather than a few cherry picked lines) you will see that other commissioners of the FCC, from the FTC, the World Bank,the US state Department, and a whole bunch of others are on there:

Verizon is a sponsor of the event, but in no means appears to control it.

Tom Wheeler addressed the same group last year, also sponsored by Verizon – the very same group he was regulating! Oh, the SHAME!

You are smarter than that, have a look at the bigger picture and don’t get tricked by cherry picking facts to try to build a narrative.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

And again, context and timing matters. Were any of those speaking events Wheeler were involved in days before a major vote where he planned on handing the industry in question a massive boon?

The head of the FCC speaking in an industry sponsored event when their job involves regulating them is suspect and comes across as just a wee bit dodgy.

The head of the FCC speaking at an industry sponsored event days before gutting rules that those sponsoring the event have been trying to kill for years, all the while claiming to be neutral and not doing it for the industry in question is practically flipping the public the bird and flat out admitting who’s opinion and good will he really cares about.

(The ‘look, other people are speaking there too!’ excuse doesn’t fly, as other members of the FCC shouldn’t be speaking there at this time either, and the others aren’t members of the agency planning on gutting the rules for the industry. That they might be relevant down the line such that their presence there now is dodgy does not make Pai’s presence any less dodgy.)

As the final paragraph noted(just in case you missed it):

‘Even if there’s nothing officially "wrong" here, this is yet another example of what Larry Lessig has called "soft corruption", where these actions — even if aboveboard — present such a strong sense of corruption that it makes the public trust our government even less.

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