Head Of House Judiciary Committee Dines With MPAA, Joins Their Fundraiser, Following LA Copyright Hearing

from the soft-corruption-at-work dept

In the past, we've discussed the idea of "soft corruption" a few times -- which in some ways can be more nefarious than out and out corruption. In soft corruption, it's not what most people normally think of as corruption (i.e., cash for getting something from politicians), but merely something that presents the very strong appearance of influence buying. It involves situations where even if everything being done is legal and done for the right intentions, the mere appearance of the conflict reduces the public's trust in government. Earlier this week, we wrote about how the House Judiciary Committee, which claims to be working on a major copyright reform effort, held "listening tours" in both Silicon Valley and Los Angeles (unfortunately, reinforcing the idea that copyright is a "Hollywood v. Silicon Valley" concept). As we noted, however, we were pleasantly surprised at the Silicon Valley hearing, that the discussion seemed really positive. It was (a) focused on actual ideas that could be implemented and (b) the members of the Judiciary Committee really seemed open to lots of good ideas.

From reports I've heard, the LA listening tour was also pretty good, minus one silly, but expected, flareup involving someone accusing Google of being a criminal pirate enterprise. However, in a move that seems fairly sketchy, following the hearing, the Committee members who were there had dinner with the MPAA. And, in Politico's latest report it notes that the head of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, hung around an extra day in Southern California to put his name on and attend a fundraiser for his colleague Rep. Kevin McCarthy.... put on by the MPAA:
Rep. Bob Goodlatte didn't just bring lawmakers to Silicon Valley and Los Angeles this week to talk with tech companies and content creators about the future of copyright. The House Judiciary Committee chief also offered his name and support to a fundraiser for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the National Republican Congressional Committee, hosted last night by the MPAA, according to an invite snagged by MT.

The event, a cocktail reception and dinner at the BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood, asked for checks to be made out to the McCarthy Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee with the NRCC, according to a Goodlatte aide. But the Judiciary chairman, who was slated to attend, extended the help a day after he and other lawmakers visited Hollywood to talk tech policy and later dined with the MPAA. A spokeswoman for the congressman added it was Goodlatte's only fundraising event while out in California
And, yes, if he had done a similar thing up in Northern California with tech folks, it would be equally concerning. I know the cynical folks who read this won't accept this, but I actually do believe that Goodlatte is trying to come up with a reasonable plan for copyright reform that actually takes all the issues into account. While I don't always agree with him, I've found him to be a lot more open to understanding these issues than some of his colleagues. But... that said... this is the kind of thing that most people will see and reasonably think that it undermines Goodlatte's trustworthiness on issues like this. It certainly gives off the appearance of a pretty strong conflict of interest, and makes people more cynical and less trustworthy of the government that is supposed to represent them.

Of course, much of the real underlying problem here is the state of money in politics today, and the fact that, for most Congressional Reps. fundraising is nearly 50% of their job responsibilities. So, if you're going to Hollywood, why not tack on a fundraiser? But, again, what that does, in the public's eyes, is make the entire process appear corrupt in some fashion. Thus, even if everyone's goals and intentions are aboveboard, the American public has significantly less trust in the entire system.

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  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 12 Nov 2015 @ 11:24am

    Square Root of Negative 1 ??

    INRE: "... has significantly less trust in the entire system..."

    Well, since many of us have NO trust in the system now, does significantly less than that move us into Irrational Numbers? Or more appropriately into "Infinite Improbability" mode???

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Nov 2015 @ 12:16am

      Re: Square Root of Negative 1 ??

      According to Rep. Goodlatte, significantly less of nothing is apparently a cushy job for his 'colleague', and theft from the public purse for personal gain.

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

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 12 Nov 2015 @ 11:56am

    Looking forward to seeing Rep. Bob Goodlatte's cameo in an upcoming superhero movie as we did with Sen. Patrick Leahy.

    Soft corruption isn't limited to hosted dinners.

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

    • icon
      ltlw0lf (profile), 12 Nov 2015 @ 2:22pm

      Re:

      Looking forward to seeing Rep. Bob Goodlatte's cameo in an upcoming superhero movie as we did with Sen. Patrick Leahy.

      I know its the whole high court/low court, but any employee of the government who did this stuff would be looking at an official reprimand, unemployment (with a permanent ban on any future government work,) or a stay at a state or Federal penitentiary. I don't understand how what is good for the goose isn't good for the gander. Certainly the opposite...if government employees get reprimanded for going to a dinner paid for by a third party (whether or not they in turn pay for their own meal, as is required by the law,) then I don't understand how Senators, Representatives, senior politicians, etc., are allowed to get away with it, since they may be elected, but they are still employees of the government (and should be held to a much higher standard that their plebs and peons.)

      How is this not receiving a bribe?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2015 @ 12:05pm

    To a large extent, Silicon valley is about enabling people to do things, while the MPAA is about controlling people. Guess which group politicians feel most at home with, and will therefore listen to?

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

  • icon
    TruthHurts (profile), 12 Nov 2015 @ 12:46pm

    Why does Congress allow this?

    In the judicial branch, if a judge has "ties" to either side of the case, they must recuse themselves.

    Shouldn't the same hold true in Congress? I mean hell, why is Congress the only entity where it's considered ethical for people to shift from business to office to business, not having to disclose those ties and being able to write / vote legislature related to those businesses?

    I know, I know, I'm dreaming if I think we can stamp out the gross negligence that Congress has shown in mandating ethical (if not moral) conduct by their members.

    Still, I can't believe someone hasn't filed some kind of class-action lawsuit against our Corporate Sponsored Congress Critters...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2015 @ 2:02pm

      Re: Why does Congress allow this?

      > Still, I can't believe someone hasn't filed some kind of class-action lawsuit against our Corporate Sponsored Congress Critters...

      I'm sure many have tried... but how do you go about successfully launching a lawsuit against the people making the laws? There'd have to be a pretty big schism between the judiciary and Congress for that to go anywhere.

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

  • identicon
    David, 12 Nov 2015 @ 12:52pm

    "soft" corruption

    That sounds to me like the "soft" in "soft chancre".

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

  • identicon
    Digitari, 12 Nov 2015 @ 12:59pm

    Soft......

    until some political "viagra" shows up, but it's just "free" $peech.

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 12 Nov 2015 @ 1:14pm

    Plot twist: The MPAA gets sued by Amazon for violating the One Click Buying patent following their purchase of Rep. Goodlatte and Rep. McCarthy.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2015 @ 1:46pm

    On behalf of the MPAA, I wish to emphasize that all these meetings occurred in California. Never, at any time, did any of the Chief Diversity Officers of the MPAA or any of its corporate members, travel to Washington for any purpose whatever.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2015 @ 3:10pm

    Equally concerning? LOL Google has met with Obama and his staff more than any other company or industry.

    Can you seriously be any more full of shit?

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

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 12 Nov 2015 @ 3:57pm

      Re:

      Google has met with Obama and his staff more than any other company or industry.

      Understandable. Google's rich, fun, and smart. The MafiAA are rich, demanding, and crooked. I know which I'd pick.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2015 @ 4:45pm

      Re:

      When Google demands to pass its own SOPA, you let us know.

      Until then, you can have a DMCA vote.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2015 @ 5:38pm

      Re:

      But...but...but...Google. That some sad deflection there.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 12 Nov 2015 @ 6:24pm

      Look, a distraction!

      As one of the ACs above notes, when Google starts getting blatantly pro-Google laws passed thanks to those meetings, let us know.

      Had Google or one of the tech companies done this sort of thing before, during or after the previous hearing, I'm guessing you'd be screaming your head off about how it was evidence of them trying to bribe the politicians involved, yet the MPAA does it and the best you can come up with is a weak attempt at deflection? Really?

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 12 Nov 2015 @ 6:44pm

    Well that explains it...

    The reason the various politicians were so attentive during the two meetings is that they were waiting for those on the other side of the table to break out the check-books.

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


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