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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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 10:52am

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

    I KNOW that you TOO have corporate masters:

    https://copia.is/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/sponsors.png

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 11:37am

      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.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 9:24pm

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

        Mike could write an article calling Google the devil and out_of_the_blue will still shit his pants because Masnick didn't call Google the devil plus one.

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

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 11:59am

      Google-boy!

      For what it's worth Anonymous Coward, you lost my interest at Google-boy.

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

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 5 Dec 2017 @ 12:15pm

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

      Clicked unhide... just to flag the comment. :)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 11:01am

    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?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 11:18am

      Re:

      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 .

      He's giving favors to all the telcos, so why not go over to AT&T or whoever offers the most money?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 3:00pm

      Re:

      This pic of Lowell McAdams (Verizon CEO) and Ajit Pai answers the question on how they communicate.

      https://i.imgur.com/iyrNiit.jpg

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

  • identicon
    Anonmylous, 5 Dec 2017 @ 11:22am

    Hmm

    So now I have to wonder... was he paid to speak? Is that a conflict of interest? Can suit be brought to halt the vote pending the outcome of an ethics investigation?

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 11:30am

    And that's why I don't agree when you say he is well-intentioned but misguided. He's just a giant corrupt piece of telco turd.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 1:00pm

    Why don't they just hand him a bag of cash?

    That, at least, would provide refreshing clarity.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 1:02pm

    ILLEGAL

    This is gov. favoritism..
    Same BS, going on in MOST of our gov...for the last 30+ years..
    NEVER THE BEST, always the CORP that pays the most..
    NO MORE BIDDING..

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

  • identicon
    Chuck, 5 Dec 2017 @ 1:07pm

    Nostalgia

    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?

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

    • icon
      aerinai (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 1:24pm

      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.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Richard Bennett (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 1:31pm

    Grasping at straws.

    Verizon provided the venue, but the event was organized by IIT. You're grasping at straws.

    Tommy Wheeler was HEAD LOBBYIST for cable and then mobile for 20 years. Did he do their bidding?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 2:06pm

      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.

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

  • icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 1:45pm

    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!

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

  • identicon
    jazzbot, 5 Dec 2017 @ 2:01pm

    I think it may be time to give him the Dan Savage treatment.

    What act does Ajiting describe to you?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 2:32pm

    Ewww

    What's that smell?

    Oh, it's Ajit Pai and regulatory capture, also known by the more user-friendly term, corruption.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 3:24pm

    <I>How is this not the crime of bribery?</I>

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

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 5:42pm

      Bribery

      It totally is bribery, just not criminalized bribery. (Or if it is criminalized, it is unenforced, like perjury by government officials.)

      Ours is no longer a nation of laws.

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

  • icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 5:41pm

    Why were you not upset when Wheeler addressed the same group?

    https://www.fcc.gov/document/chairman-wheeler-international-institute-communications-event

    OH SNAP!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 6:42pm

      Re:

      Why were you not upset when the RIAA sued dead people?

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

      • icon
        MyNameHere (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 6:57pm

        Re: Re:

        Why do dead people have internet service?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 7:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          They didn’t and yet, still got sued. Try again junior.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 8:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: 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?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 7:32pm

      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.

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

      • icon
        MyNameHere (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 3:09am

        Re: Re:

        I think that maybe, just maybe, it's because Wheeler was doing something Techdirt liked, so no complaints.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 9:24am

          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.)

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

          • icon
            MyNameHere (profile), 6 Dec 2017 @ 5:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: 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:

            https://www.iicom.org/events/item/tmf-washington-2017-event-programme

            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.

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

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 7 Dec 2017 @ 10:44am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

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


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