Telecom Musical Chairs: Regulators And Lobbyists Swap Roles, Everyone Wins! (Except The Public)

from the musical-chairs-without-a-chair-being-taken-away dept

We've talked plenty about the big revolving door between government and big business lately, but there are still some moments that are purely insane that show just how broken the system is. On Wednesday, news broke that former FCC commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker has been named the new CEO of CTIA, the main lobbying organization for mobile phone operators. Baker is no stranger to questionable revolving door moves, seeing as just months after she voted to approve Comcast's merger with NBC Universal, she took a top lobbying job with Comcast. Funny how that works.

But, in this case, it's even more ridiculous because, as Jon Brodkin points out, the current head of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, previously was CEO of CTIA as well. And prior to that he was CEO of NCTA (the cable industry's main lobbying group). And, to top it off, the current head of CTIA is none other than former FCC chair Michael Powell.

If you're keeping score at home, it looks like this:
  • Michael Powell: FCC Chair -> NCTA boss
  • Meredith Atwell Baker: FCC Commissioner -> Comcast -> CTIA boss
  • Tom Wheeler: NCTA boss -> CTIA boss -> FCC Chair
They're playing a game of musical chairs where no chair is ever removed... and they all get fabulously wealthy scratching each others' backs. Even if everyone is being completely sincere in their positions (a big if, but let's assume it for now), the real problem here, again, is that the perception of rampant corruption is encouraged by this sort of thing, leading the public to seriously distrust the government. When the top two lobbying organizations on these issues are manned by former top officials and the current top FCC official used to run both those organizations, there's a pretty clear implication that it's the public interest that's going to get shafted.

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  1. icon
    DocGerbil100 (profile), 24 Apr 2014 @ 6:02am

    Evidence

    Hello, Mr Masnick. :)

    You seem very inclined to give these people the benefit of the doubt and I find myself wondering: exactly what evidence will you need that they are corrupt in the worst way?

    These are experienced politicians, professional lobbyists for their industries - how is there any plausible likelihood that they're oblivious to the impropriety of such incestuous relationships? How can there be any chance at all that they don't know how it looks from the outside?

    If they were ever to be tried in court for corruption, they might be able to claim some measure of plausible deniability, but that's not the same as having credibility from the outset. These men have none.

    Powell, Baker and Wheeler are textbook cases of utterly shameless, corrupt officials - and short of making public, signed confessions - or wearing sandwich-boards with "whore for sale" written on them - there's not much more they could do to prove it.

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