Two high level Congressional staffers who have been instrumental in creating or moving forward both PROTECT IP (PIPA) and SOPA have left their jobs on Capitol Hill and taken jobs with two of the biggest entertainment industry lobbyists, who are working very hard to convince Congress to pass the legislation they just helped write. And people wonder why the American public looks on DC as being corrupt.
Allison Halataei, former deputy chief of staff and parliamentarian to House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Lauren Pastarnack, a Republican who has served as a senior aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee, worked on online piracy bills that would push Internet companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook to shut down websites that offer illegal copies of blockbuster films and chart-topping songs.
Pastarnack went to the MPAA where she’ll be “director of government relations” and Halataei to the NMPA (music publishers and songwriters) where she’ll be “chief liaison to Capitol Hill.” The Politico article linked above notes that this kind of “revolving door” is all too common. It may not be directly corrupt, but to the public it sure feels corrupt. It certainly gives off the appearance of “hey, write us the insane bill that we want, and then we’ll reward you with a super cushy high paying job.” At the very least, it should raise significant questions about whether or not these two bills were written with the public’s interest in mind (I know, I know, don’t laugh….) or their future employers’. Technically, neither of them can directly lobby the specific committees where they worked, but they can certainly assist in the process.
“They can provide invaluable insight to people on the outside — even in the consultation mode,” one tech industry lobbyist said, noting that Halataei had been Smith’s secondhand person and knows how the Texas Republican thinks and what would be an effective lobbying strategy.
Additionally, the Senate and House panels work closely together, and both Halataei and Pastarnack have ties to staffers in the chambers they didn’t serve in and aren’t banned from lobbying.
Also, as the Politico article notes, a year from now, you can bet there will still be fights about either this or similar legislation. American politics is a disaster.