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.