One of the biggest problems in America is that there are basically three ways to bribe government officials, and only one of them is actually illegal. Having what is essentially a standing job offer is a legal way for corporations to use huge financial payments to people in power to encourage them to make the “right” decision. The case of a FCC Commissioner and Comcast-NBC Universal is a prime example. From the Washington Post:
Federal Communications commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker announced Wednesday that she will resign from the FCC on June 3 and join Comcast-NBC Universal as its senior vice president of governmental affairs.
Baker, a Republican, joined the FCC in 2009 after working at the National Telecomunications and Information Administration under President George W. Bush. While at the NTIA, Baker oversaw a $1.5 billion coupon program to help consumers make the transition to digital-only television.
The commissioner’s announcement comes four months after she voted to approve a merger between Comcast and NBC Universal.
All the corporation need to do is make known what they consider philosophically the right decision and also have it publicly known that they have a standing million dollar job offer for any “qualified” former government official that shares the company’s philosophy.
It is perfectly legal. There is no need for incriminating secret phone calls on which to actually agree out loud that there will be a quid pro quo. There isn’t even a need for direct communication. But just letting people in power know their is in essence a standing job offer can be even more effective “encouragement” than a suitcase full of cash.
The fact that this kind of thing is legal in America is disgraceful. Clearly, we need some tough new restrictions on the revolving door between corporations and the government positions that are supposed to be regulating them in the public interest.