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Old 05-28-2014, 08:55 AM  
Cochise Cochise is offline
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Comcast’s Army of Lobbyists Continues to Raise Ethical Concerns

Comcast’s Army of Lobbyists Continues to Raise Ethical Concerns


BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
May 27, 2014 2:14 pm

Comcast’s army of revolving-door lobbyists continues to raise ethical concerns as it seeks a $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Times’ Michael Hiltzik is the latest to note that Comcast has hired dozens of lobbyists who formerly worked for congressional committees and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)—the same entities that would scrutinize and approve the merger:

So, let slip the dogs of war. The sheer scale of Comcast’s lobbying effort, which includes lavish campaign contributions to members of Congress, hints at the obstacles that opponents of the merger will face in persuading lawmakers and regulators of the damage this deal will do to the public interest. (A fact sheet from Consumers Union is here.)

The Public Accountability Initiative’s LittleSis website lists 28 former congressional and White House staffers working Comcast’s side of the street on the merger deal.

They form a subset of the 76 Comcast and Time Warner Cable lobbyists identified by Time magazine’s Alec Rogers as having ties with congressional committees, current and former members of Congress and minority organizations expected to voice an opinion on the merger.

Meanwhile, the OpenSecrets blog of the Center for Responsive Politics revisits the revolving door between Comcast and the FCC. The outstanding scandal of this relationship was the resignation of FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker in May 2011 to take a lobbying job at Comcast—a mere four months after she voted to approve Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal. We reported on the ethical aspects of Baker’s move at the time. Short version: There was nothing ethical about it.

Comcast also has extensive ties to the Democratic Party, raising additional concerns about the post-merger influence it could wield in markets such as local political advertising.
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Old 05-28-2014, 08:56 AM   #2
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What Corruption Looks Like: FCC Commissioner Takes Job At Comcast Months After She Voted To Approve Its Deal With NBC Universal


A lot of folks are shaking their heads after learning that FCC commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker is leaving her post to take a lobbying job at Comcast just a few months after she voted to approve Comcast's massive purchase of NBC Universal. Now, let's be clear: there's nothing illegal in her taking this job. While she can't lobby the FCC for two years, she can lobby Congress or other parts of the government. And, it doesn't mean that she's corrupt at all. But it's this kind of move that makes people trust our government less and highlights why so many people believe that our government is corrupt.

When you have a massive revolving door, in which the people voting on important deals for companies are likely to get massive salary increases in jobs from those same companies a few months later, it's certainly going to make plenty of people assume corruption, even if there isn't any. So even if it's not corruption in the classical sense, it's hard not to see this as a form of regulatory capture. Baker's term is up in June, but it had been expected she would be re-nominated and would stay. But, making this decision so soon after voting on such a huge deal for the FCC certainly raises some questions about when she started talking to Comcast about a job and when she even decided she was looking for a different job.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/201...niversal.shtml
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Old 05-28-2014, 08:57 AM   #3
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Revolving Door: Top Obama Admin Antitrust Officials Tied To Comcast


The news that cable and news giant Comcast has struck a deal to purchase Time Warner, another large cable business, has raised concerns over market concentration. Observers note that the combined company, even if it divests some holdings, would create monopoly-like conditions for the industry.

Many are predicting a lobbying blitz by both companies to pressure governments officials to accept the deal. When Comcast purchased NBC Universal, lobbyists were hired to ensure the merger went through. Critics charge that the payments went beyond the traditional influence industry: after signing off on the Comcast-NBC deal, FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker was hired by Comcast for an undisclosed amount.

Could the revolving door shape the antitrust enforcement for the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner? Republic Report looked into the officials responsible for overseeing antitrust enforcement, and found that at least two have close ties to Comcast.

The recently installed head of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, William Baer, was a lawyer representing GE and NBC in their push for the merger with Comcast. At the time, Baer was an attorney with the firm Arnold & Porter. To his credit, Baer said last month that he is skeptical of further consolidation of the cable market. Disclosures reviewed by Republic Report show that Baer will continue receiving payments from Arnold & Porter for the next eleven years as part of his retirement package.

Maureen Ohlhausen, one of four commissioners on the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees antitrust enforcement, provided legal counsel for Comcast as an attorney just before joining the FTC. She also represented NBC Universal in the year before before becoming a commissioner in April of 2012. NBC Universal completed its merger with Comcast in January of 2011.

Still, several officials have signaled that they may reject the Comcast-Time Warner deal. Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai told the Wall Street Journal that the merger could face “a number of hurdles in the Obama administration.”

Comcast and Time Warner are major players in both political parties.

Update: FTC Commissioner Joshua Wright, who began his term last month as a Republican member, worked for the economic consulting firm Charles River Associates since 2009. According to his disclosure, obtained by Republic Report, Wright was on a CRA team that had been retained to secure “antitrust clearance from the DOJ and FCC” for NBC Universal’s merger with Comcast. In addition to his salary as a law professor, Wright earned nearly $900,000 in outside income consulting for various Charles River Associates clients.

- See more at: http://www.republicreport.org/2014/c....UGoPsh1K.dpuf
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Old 05-28-2014, 12:30 PM   #4
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Bribes are totally legal... as long as you follow the proper procedures.

This has always been a problem.
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Old 05-28-2014, 12:58 PM   #5
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The revolving door between the FDA and Monsanto is even worse. And I'm sure it's the same in other areas. Welcome to the sad reality of our government.
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Old 05-28-2014, 01:12 PM   #6
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Yes. And the military and military contractors. Imagine you being a general, and your former mentor and a guy who helped you up through the ranks is now with, name it, Raytheon, Boeing, whoever, and it's now YOUR decision to expand, keep or cut a program to build that company's widget.

Ugh.
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Old 05-28-2014, 02:42 PM
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