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SOPA creator received half a million dollars from the TV/Film/Music lobby (slashdot.org)
300 points by gasull on Dec 18, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 64 comments



This is the same representative who's former chief of staff / parliamentarian, Allison Halataei, got hired by a lobbying firm to get SOPA passed after helping write it.[1]

If this country ever undergoes a revolution in my lifetime, I sincerely hope that the lobbyists that acted at these levels of scumminess get tried for treason.

[1] http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/12/10/226238/two-sopa-write...


According to

http://maplight.org/us-congress/bill/112-hr-3261/1019110/con...

Lamar Smith has received $277,350 from groups that support the bill and $41,000 from those who do not.

The total contributions for all groups to all members of congress who support $49,802,962 the total for those who oppose $665,012. This stats that 98.68% of the total 504,67,974 lobbing dollars are from groups that support SOPA.


Wow.

Does anyone know why Google/Apple/Other-super-giant-billion-dollar-companies aren't more proactive in influencing congress?

With all their billions, competing with $50 million seems like it would be a pretty insignificant cost for them - especially if the cost was shared among a consortium of companies. A few million per company seems like it'd be pretty cheap to ensure greater influence in preventing malignant legislation like SOPA.


Unfortunately it's not as easy as just pumping money into lobbying. It can take decades for special interests to build influence in Washington, and the entertainment industry has had a long head start over Google et al. Still, it seems likely that SOPA will end up being spoken about in the same breath as the MPAA's efforts to get VCRs banned in the early 80s.


Also, they might not be very keen to participate in such an immoral system ?


Google might also benefit greatly from SOPA. One possible scenario is that millions who are used to free content(and now hate big content companies due to SOPA) will use youtube much more, especially for longer content and share much more youtube content. This will help pull content producers and advertisers into youtube , turning into a big positive feedback cycle.


Apple probably stands to benefit from SOPA if more people end up downloading music/movies from itunes. I think microsoft / amazon are in the same boat with their own downloading services.


"get tried for treason"

The First Amendment would disagree with you.


I think there's a fine line between free speech and buying votes, the latter of which in my (probably hyperbolic) opinion should be treasonous.


It's very coarse and clear as far as I'm concerned.

Speech != money. Talk/write/etc all you want. Even spend money on spreading your "voice". But, giving people money or "in kind" is clearly bribery and not speech.


Fuck the first amendment, how about the constitutional definition of treason:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.


The reasoning would be simple: The corrupt members of the government have levied a body of men to overthrow the democratic institution that we call the United States of America.

http://law.onecle.com/constitution/article-3/41-levying-war....

"Major" Bloomberg: "The NYPD is my Army", Homeland Security trampling on the US Constitution at every opportunity and at the order of congress, warrantless wiretaps, etc etc. Peaceable Protest made impossible by bureaucracy. Establishment of "First Amendment" zones for the press - where they can't see what's going on. Congress/Executive/SCOTUS making a tidy living from bribes^H^H^H Free Speech Expressed As Money.

There are a great many "bodies of men" acting unconstitutionally in this country, so assuming that a revolution took place, I don't think this line of prosecution would have much of a problem, do you? If a revolution doesn't take place, I think its pretty safe to say that the Government will take your side on the matter.


You are mistaken. Bribery and corruption are not protected by the first amendment. Try offering a police officer some cash next time you get a speeding ticket. Or setting up a nice deal to put kids in jail [1].

Of course, this only applies to me, you, county judges, etc. Not senators. Not SCOTUS Justices. Not the people who have the most to gain from such corruption. Not the people who actually decide such laws. Fancy.

[1] http://articles.cnn.com/2009-02-23/justice/pennsylvania.corr...


You've misunderstood. Bribery and corruption are not protected by the first amendment and I never said they were. Donations are regarded as free speech despite the popular opinion that they are bribes.

I worked in Congress and saw a lot of good people doing a lot of good things. In my three years there I never saw any of the culture of greed and corruption that is perpetuated in so many places. It's sad.


Uh, what? You're claiming that those in congress are doing great things for us and the culture of greed and corruption is a perpetuated lie? Surely I've misread what you're saying because I can't imagine any person intelligent enough to even post online would say something so ridiculous.


What's the difference between a "donation" to a power figure and a bribe?


"Donations are regarded [by those who receive them] as free speech despite the popular opinion that they are bribes."

Yes. That pretty much nails the complaint on the head right there.

"I never saw"

And that would be the second.


And that pretty much hits the nail on the head for why the ruling for Citizens United is bad. It basically legalised bribes by confusing it with free speech.


He said "If this country ever undergoes a revolution in my lifetime, I sincerely hope that the lobbyists that acted at these levels of scumminess get tried for treason."

So the First Amendment would not be a problem there. It's hardly a prerequisite of a revolution to keep the same constitution as the old regime or to interpret it in the same way --quite the opposite.


"...got hired by a lobbying firm to get SOPA passed after helping write it."

Because he was an expert on it by then. It's not a big deal.


This is rather misleading. First, it sums over his entire career. Second, it doesn't mention the large amount he's received from industries that oppose things like SOPA. Third, it doesn't mention that the TV/movie/music industry has donated large amount to those who are currently opposing SOPA.


"Third, it doesn't mention that the TV/movie/music industry has donated large amount to those who are currently opposing SOPA."

This is what's known as hedging.


Or "attempted bribery" that didn't work. o_O

If I get pulled over 10 times by 10 different cops, and I offer each one $100 to let me off, and only one of them takes the bribe - the other 9 don't negate the fact that one guy took the bribe.

"No your honor, I just like giving money to police officers whenever I meet them. See, its just random chance that this one guy let me off. Clearly it was on the merits of the situation, not because my money influenced him."

Cops don't make the laws of course. Otherwise you'd be allowed to bribe cops.


I didn't bother reading the Slashdot article because I expect that it really is misleading, but in response to your second & third points, I examined the link someone else first posted to HN:

http://maplight.org/us-congress/bill/112-hr-3261/1019110/con...

Lamar Smith (R TX-21) Support: $277,350 Oppose: $41,000

I see some other Judiciary Committee members up near the top with similar very high support/oppose ratios and I think it's been fairly supportive of the bill overall. Then I looked up some of the more notable opponents: Pelosi & Issa. They have 2-1 and 10-1 ratios (support/oppose) in spite of being opponents.

I think looking at the list of industries that are SOPA supporters is more interesting. Exactly why do some of those industries want to support SOPA? Here the oddballs industries on the list: auto repair, animal feed & health products, confectionery processors & manufacturers, optical services (glasses & contact lenses), & tobacco & tobacco products. Why are they on there? My best guess is that lobbyists are involved somehow.


>> auto repair, animal feed & health products, confectionery processors & manufacturers, optical services (glasses & contact lenses),

Counterfeit products, perhaps?


Great points. It also implies that this was a cause that was important to him because of the money he received, but does not address the possibility that he was a target of these donations because the donors saw him as someone who agreed with them.


Though I usually eat these sorts of stories up, this particular one seems like pretty thin evidence. It seems that he received about $50k/year from these industries, which as far as campaign contributions go, is not really a huge amount. I suspect it wouldn't by itself be enough to swing his vote if he wasn't already basically in favor; on really contentious issues when the campaign contributions start to become a real factor, they're measured in millions per year, not $50k--- for example, Chuck Schumer received $1.7 million from financial companies in 2009, according to a quick search (http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/01/big-finance-donation...).


Remember how Obama promised to remove lobbyists and not take their money?

It almost as bad as Guantanamo still being open (except some innocent people there without trial for half a decade).

When lawmakers make their own laws, they are certainly going to guarantee they can always take money and get big benefits (and skip the TSA lines at airports, etc. etc.)


What is missing every time things like this are brought up: how much do others receive? Yes, the creator of SOPA has received over half a million dollars, but how does that compare to the average?

I'm sure that it is above average, but it still needs to be clarified.


Why should they receive any money from lobbies? How's that good for our country and our democracy?


It is freedom of speech. If they could not donate to politicians and support their cause, neither could you. If we took away all donations, only the richest could afford to run. Also, the ability to donate has been classified as speech, thus the First Amendment precludes it from being outlawed.


> If we took away all donations, only the richest could afford to run.

If we banned lobbying, took away all donations, and mandated all candidates use public funds to campaign, this would not be a problem. (Except to the very most annoying of Libertarians.)


I've seen this suggestion made elsewhere and agree. One of the concerns raised was relative tv time being that things would be skewed towards the incumbent. To this I would propose exposure (tv, radio) inversely proportional to how the candidate does in polling, primaries etc. that is the weakest candidate get the most time... Presumably, the positions of the incumbent are already well known.


Why would we want this artificial evening of the race? If someone is polling at 2% why should he receive a huge portion of advertising time?

Doesn't make any sense.


"...took away all donations..."

I do think it is a great idea in theory, but again it violates the First Amendment to take away my ability to support a candidate.


Surely there are better ways to support a candidate than money. If you want to donate something to a candidate, donate hours of your time toward their campaign. If you have easily stated reasons for supporting a candidate, you will be more likely to get more supporters for said candidate with your word of mouth than with your money.


With the current state of affairs, only the richest can afford to not sell their soul. The fact is, once you accept a "donation" you are in somebody's pocket.


"Also, the ability to donate has been classified as speech, thus the First Amendment precludes it from being outlawed."

Because they bribed them to redefine their bribing as speech, which any independent thinking individual clearly knows is not the case.

_Nine_ percent approval rating.


The point is he should not have received anything, PERIOD.

Another point is exhausting pedantic analysis is not political --sometimes your gut instinct tells you more of what's going on. I mean, at some point we ought to be ENRAGED of such things, not discuss trivial details about them.


Look at the comment elsewhere about how even those who are opposing the bill have similar distributions of donations. It would seem to be more likely that (in general) the majority of the lobbying groups (pouring money into Washington) are in favor of SOPA.

That said, regulatory capture is the real demon (moreso than campaign contributions).


Another point is exhausting pedantic analysis is not political --sometimes your gut instinct tells you more of what's going on.

Sarah Palin, is that you?


Over-analyser that never gets anything done, is that you?


So, why is insider trading illegal again?


The Eric S. Raymond link posted at the end is worth a read as well (although it's kind of off topic):

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=4009 http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3367674


And that's how this country is sold for peanuts.

The political system is really brilliant from the point of view of the rich. You only have to buy 100 senators and 435 representatives (actually, only 67% of them) to decide what 307 million people do, how their tax money is spent, etc.


I can't decide if I'm more offended that it's so corrupt or that the price is so cheap.


I also think the real problem is that they are so cheap. Whatever I read about lobbying the ROI is huge. Obviously having politicians make it more expensive to bribe will have some serious problems too... I think the best would be to make all payments anonymous. If you like what a politician does you support him but he should never know who donated to him.


That won't work at all. There is no way to anonymize the donations. You can always just tell the rep. "That donation you received on such and such a date for such and such an amount was me."


This was discussed on an interview with a Harvard ethics professor on The Daily Show recently:

(Part 1 of 2) http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-december-13-2011/exclu...

(Part 2 of 2) http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-december-13-2011/exclu...

Discussion of anonymity is in part 2 at 5m35s.

tl;dw:

A) Require that all donations are anonymous

B) Hold donations for a minimum delay

C) Distribute donations randomly over a period of time

D) Allow donators to revoke their donations secretly during the distribution delay

Apparently, this was tried with judges in Florida and no one donated anything. It worked _too_ well.


Well, wouldn't a complete elimination of bribery be a good thing?

Call me old-fashioned, but if the complaint was 'it put taxes up', I'd rather see a tax-funded than bribery-funded system.


I don't think you can generalize that. As far as I remember Obama got a lot of small donations in 2008 and as a small donor your donations are pretty much anonymous. You don't get any special access for your $100 or less. But people still donated. Maybe the big donors would go away but I am fine with that.


That problem is easy to fix. The problem it won't fix is that the real bribery is when these guys are given jobs in the same industry for outrageous salaries (compared to market for similar positions).


This is why, even though he is a nutjob on reproductive-rights, I have to support Ron Paul. All these issues should be decided by the states, not the feds.


> All these issues should be decided by the states, not the feds.

Rather OT, but I have a major problem with this line. The population of the U.S. around the writing of the constitution was ~3 million; if it was a state today, it would be one of the smaller ones. In many cases, states are not in any better a position to decide these issues than the federal government. (And with things like SOPA, per-state regulation would naturally be disastrous.) I think at this point, very few things can be well decided at the state level; thus, either the national gov't is needed to keep states from stepping on each others' toes (tax law and internet taxes), or the national gov't is needed to keep states from stepping on the rights of citizens of that state - which they are just as capable of doing as the national gov't was when the idea of state sovereignty was taken for granted.

tl;dr: states are as capable of screwing things up as the national gov't, and tend to be less transparent about it.


Kucinich and Gravel are sane versions of Ron Paul.


This is a shake down. If Facebook, Google, reddit, etc have something to gain from this, then they need to step and replace the money our poor senators will lose. This is how america works. You want legal "protection", you pays your "taxes".

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/sopa-the-c...


I like how the first slashdot comment is about the article itself, then the next open comment I see is something about abortion... Go slashdot


This angers me. It angers me because people don't realize that most often, a politician gets donations from organizations that already know he agrees with their goals.

I worked for a politician from a Western State. He got tons of money from mining, gaming and defense contractors. He openly stated that without those three industries, his home state would barely exist. Those three employed a vast majority of his constituents and would thus would always have him in their corner.

Interestingly, he had a hard time raising money when running against an opponent who also agreed with the above points.


The problem I have isn't with the idea of organizations making donations, but rather when those donations create a "direct line" from the lobbyist group to the politician, bypassing the constituents.

Representatives are there to represent contituents because the USA is too big for direct democracy. If industry x really has such a profound impact on a community then it's in the self-interest of voters to reflect that at the voting booth by voting for the politician that will help said industry, and by extension, their community.

A private organization greasing the hand of a politician in order to ram a piece of legislation through, against the wishes of said politician's constituents is beyond contempt. From all the evidence I've seen, the only ones who like SOPA are the entertainment industry, and last time I checked they weren't elected to any governmental position.


From all the evidence I've seen, the only ones who like SOPA are the entertainment industry, and last time I checked they weren't elected to any governmental position.

Look, I hate SOPA etc etc, but I think you are going a bit overboard here.

The entertainment industry is a large employer, and the people employed by it are constituents.

You and I may think that SOPA isn't the best way forward, but it is easy to argue that it might protect old, dying industries and the jobs they represent.

Lobby groups are how the voices of people are heard in Washington. It isn't ideal, but nor is it necessarily as corrupt as you are making out.


Is it that large? The true estimates I saw suggest less than 400,000 people? Is that bigger than the tech industry?


The movie making industry is around 400,000, with another 120,000 working in movie theatres[1]. The entertainment industry is much larger though.

Also, SOPA is supported by the pharmaceutical and retail industries, which are large employers as well.

The software industry probably employs around 2 million (1.7 million in 2007) [2].

[1] http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111213/18060117071/actual...

[2] http://www.bsa.org/country/Public%20Policy/~/media/Files/Pol...


"A private organization greasing the hand of a politician in order to ram a piece of legislation through, against the wishes of said politician's constituents..."

I would like you to prove to me this has ever happened. I am not saying it ever happened, as I am sure it has. Show me one time it did.

"If industry x really has such a profound impact on a community then it's in the self-interest of voters to reflect that at the voting booth by voting for the politician that will help said industry, and by extension, their community."

In my experience, that is why 90% (my guestimation) of donations--by both individuals and organizations--happen.


Interesting. You claim:

1) My guy was honest and just expressing his opinion.

2) My guy had trouble raising money when faced with an opponent who also had the same opinion and whose honesty you cannot vouch for.

You argument does not refute our claim: Money goes to the corrupt. Indeed it would appear to support it.




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