by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
donors, itac 15, lobbyists, politics, tpp, ustr

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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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2014 @ 6:54am

    I just hope that however did leak the enviromnental and IP chapters of TPP is never found by the US Government. I could see that person facing the same kind of criminal charges as Ed Snowden, since TPP documnets seem to have the same level of government secrecy.

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