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Politics

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
fcc, lobbying, merger

Companies:
at&t, t-mobile



Group Asks FCC Commissioners To Promise Not To Go Work For AT&T If They Vote To Approve T-Mobile Merger

from the name-and-shame dept

Following the story of FCC commissioner Meredith Atwell Baker joining Comcast as a lobbyist just a few months after approving that company's buyout of NBC Universal, the group Free Press is asking the remaining FCC commissioners to take a pledge that, if they vote to approve the AT&T/T-mobile merger, they won't then take a lobbying job with AT&T. Of course, if any of them took the pledge, it's not clear what's to stop them from then breaking the pledge...

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  • identicon
    SpacePirate, 3 Jun 2011 @ 2:44pm

    Why Bother

    It doesn't seem like the pledge says anything about being on the AT&T payroll now though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    STJ, 3 Jun 2011 @ 2:58pm

    A customer service advisor for $200,000? Not a bad gig.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2011 @ 3:17pm

    Why is it even legal for FCC employees to do this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      A Dan (profile), 3 Jun 2011 @ 3:22pm

      Re:

      Because it hasn't been made illegal. Things are legal by default.

      More to the point, in order to understand the complex decisions required to be a regulator, you need to be intimately familiar with what you are regulating in order to make good decisions. These people are so specialized that, if they leave their regulating positions, there's not anywhere they'd be more qualified to work for than the companies they're regulating. If they couldn't, it would severely hamper the future employability of the regulators. That would make it career suicide, and we'd end up with far less-knowledgeable people people making important decisions. That's the argument, anyway.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        DCX2, 3 Jun 2011 @ 3:30pm

        Re: Re:

        And therein lies the red herring.

        No one is saying that Baker isn't allowed to find employment in the telecom industry. What we're saying is that she shouldn't find employment as a lobbyist with the company that she just approved a mega-merger for.

        I highly doubt anyone would have made a stink about Baker had she gone to work for Verizon, or had she gone into R&D with Comcast instead of lobbying.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      DCX2, 3 Jun 2011 @ 3:26pm

      Re:

      In theory, it's because someone who made a career in the FCC probably has knowledge that is very specific to that industry, and banning them from said industry would unnecessarily restrain their employment options. They would liken it to a hand surgeon who was no longer allowed to operate on hands just because he moved to a different hospital.

      The problem with this view is that while FCC Commissioner Michael Copps is certainly very knowledgeable about the communications industry, you can bet dollars to pesos that Comcast wouldn't hire him. And you'd be naive if you didn't think that had something to do with his vote against the Comcast/NBC merger.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Greevar (profile), 3 Jun 2011 @ 7:11pm

        Re: Re:

        So ban regulators from taking employment with companies that would result in a conflict of interest. How to determine the criteria for that is the challenge.

        That makes me think. I've been hearing people talk about term limits as a measure to reduce government corruption. As I see it, it would increase corruption. If they aren't eligible for re-election, then it behooves them to legislate in favor of their next employer. That is, unless you can't take employment with companies that you've had legislative dealings with during your term. So in the instance of the FCC, vote on Comcast/NBC merger and you can't take a job from them. Although, you can take a job from ABC, CBS, or FOX assuming you haven't also had to regulate them directly as well.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Jay (profile), 3 Jun 2011 @ 11:01pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Plan B: Abolish the FCC.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Greevar (profile), 4 Jun 2011 @ 12:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I was going to rebut your comment, but then I thought about how all the freed spectrum could be used solely for ubiquitous internet access, which would negate the need for conventional radio altogether. FM, AM, and TV are, after all, just obsolete methods of transmitting information, of which, the internet does better than all the above combined.

            So yes, abolish the FCC we really don't need them anymore. Then people can dump the cell phones and get wireless IP phones that don't need a carrier, just an IM client installed.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hugh Mann (profile), 3 Jun 2011 @ 3:25pm

    So . . .

    . . . should they promise to not go to work for Verizon or Sprint if they vote against the merger?

    HM

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2011 @ 4:58pm

    I bet none of them will take that pledge, and if asked about it they won't say anything beyond, "No comment." Then at least one of them will start working at AT&T right away, and they'll give the same "I had already been planning to for years" line Baker gave.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2011 @ 7:01pm

      Re:

      "I had already been planning to for years"

      So then approving the merger was part of their plan to get hired? Premeditated corruption.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mr Big Content, 3 Jun 2011 @ 7:07pm

    Suggestion In Bad Taste

    In some countries, such a disrespectful attempt to question the impartiality of the legal tribunal would see you face immediate legal penalties.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 4 Jun 2011 @ 12:21pm

    Instead of working for AT&T, just become a supplier

    A vendor of something that they need to buy from you.

    After FCC Commissioner such-and-so votes for AT&TMobile merger, they leave the FCC and become a vendor that sells AT&T much needed specially treated toothpicks.

    Or they become a donation supported writer that regularly posts on TechDirt articles that mention AT&T.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thomas (profile), 4 Jun 2011 @ 5:12pm

    Lots of luck..

    getting that through. AT&T will certainly offer cushy highly paid jobs to any member of the FCC (and probably Congress) that votes in favor of the merger.

    In lots of countries this would be called bribery, but here it is just business as usual. It's not just AT&T; look at who Comcast hired after their merger got approved.

    Politics in the U.S. is just plain dirty once you get past the lowest elected levels. Honest politicians do not get re-elected if they ever even manage to get elected in the first place. The people who work for the various commissions need something to fall back on if they are booted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    alternatives(), 5 Jun 2011 @ 5:56am

    what's to stop them from then breaking the pledge

    Why the public and private shame from breaking that pledge, that is what!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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