Congressional staffers behind SOPA get shiny new jobs as entertainment industry lobbyists

Allison Halataei (former deputy chief of staff for House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas)) and Lauren Pastarnack (former senior aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee) have cool new jobs. Having written the Internet-destroying Stop Online Piracy Act for their bosses while drawing a salary at public expense, they've now accepted massive raises to go work for the entertainment companies who stand to benefit from the law they wrote. Their new job? Helping to run the campaign to push their law through.

Halataei recently joined the National Music Publishers’ Association, and Pastarnack is jumping to the Motion Pictures Association of America, two lobbying groups pressing Congress to pass the proposals...

“This is one of those mega-fights where there is a lot of money at stake and whenever it gets to that, it’s kind of ‘Katy bar the door’ as far as what they’ll pay for talent,” said McCormick Group headhunter Ivan Adler. “This fits into the perfect scenario of why senior-level people from well-placed committees get hired, and it’s because they really know the three p’s: people, policy and process. And that makes them very valuable in the Washington marketplace.”

The former aides will face one-year lobbying bans, which means they cannot lobby the respective committees where they previously worked. But those bans don’t render the former aides useless to their new employers.

“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.

GOP aides head to K St. for tech war (via /.)


    1. Not surprised.  It’s just particularly obnoxious to be reminded of it.  Unfortunately, I see us losing this battle…

      1. what exactly are we losing though? i don’t get it. i see this as something that will help them control their quote/unquote property. but i don’t buy that crap anyway. somebody please explain how this is a problem. i seriously don’t think i’m effected by this but i would like to be informed about something that is an issue for others.

        1. The problem is the side-effects…

          If it only affected the output of RIAA and MPAA members, that would be fine.

          Unfortunately, it’s so poorly written (and/or conceived) that it’ll affect a lot else besides, from DNSSEC to freedom of speech, and a lot of that quite adversely.

    2. Internet-destroying? Hysterical purple prose?
      Keep hearing phrase “free internet” but I pay fees to server, for computers, gadgets (ever-defective & w quicker planned obsolescence each month) & am subjected to endless ads from “fans” & multibillionaire moguls who pirate the work (mainly music) of others, then have the audacity to attach it to further $-making schemes (beyind $ made off of its unauthorized, artist-unremunerated play).Why should’nt some of youtube profit go to royalties, etc.? The current arrangement is free for the moguls. No one else.

  1. Huh!  Well, I guess the system works!  Wait, by “works,” I mean “is an abomination, tainted by greed & an utter absence of ethics, unregulated so as to allow the rich & their vampire children, the corporations, the legal ability to descend into the black nadir of corruption.”

  2. I wonder if it’s the same Lauren Pastarnack who got a brand new Lexus IS 300 as a graduation present.

    She worked hard for that car, just like she worked hard for the American people.

  3. Okay, so aparently you can just buy the legislation you want. But don’t Google and Facebook know that aswell? They’re against SOPA and have pockets that are just as deep as the entertianment industrie. Are they pumping a couple million dollars in to Washington to even the playing field?

    1. Dunno how much this affects Facebook, and Google i think have seen lobbying as beneath them until fairly recently. Hell, Microsoft did not get into the lobbying game until they had a antitrust lawsuit on their hands.

      1. Except EFF sometimes opposes Google and comes after them as well… EFF are the good guys, google’s the “Not quite that evil” guys. 

    1. …probably because very few people are watching these particular g-men close enough to notice. if it’s not on the news channels most people won’t ever know. and people are told not to talk about politics. ironically, religion too.

  4. The corruption within the US Government (and many around the world) by corporations is just disgusting and shocking. How is any of this even legal? It’s direct attacks on Democracy. It’s why the USA is a Corporatocracy, not a Democracy.

      1. this probably isn’t relevant but i’m baked right now… i was actually thinking about this earlier today before i got baked, about the internet allowing more people to see things. my wife said something like “i miss the 90’s” and i thought to myself, “why was the 90’s so cool?” and my best answer to that question was that it wasn’t until the end of the 90’s that most people had internet at home. internet put everyone on the same page. in the early 90’s, people mostly just did what they enjoyed doing and tried to be original without approval from others. the only guidance from the marketers was minimal – maybe pictures in a tape or cd jacket, maybe something seen in a magazine once a month. but now we do what we’re told almost 24/7. i love the internet but i feel like the marketing suits are taking it over.

      1. I think corporacracy is better.
        In fascism, the corporations exist to benefit the state.
        In a corporacracy, the state exists to benefit the corporations

        1. Fascism is the union of government and business. Which one appears to be in charge is irrelevant to the final outcome.

    1. I’ve called Schumer thrice and not been able to get through.  Received canned emails about why SOPA is good to other emails I’ve sent him.  I’m Tweeting the link to him, but the lobbyists are the ones that have the Congress’ ear…which is why we need better funded advocacy groups to oppose them.

    2. i’ve never been able to get through. and i don’t know if they actually read things from, well, people. their mail folks are like spam filters, and the middle-class and poor people of this country are on the black list.

  5. The corruption has become epic in scale. Large corporations have sacrificed their souls on the altar of higher profits and are clearly willing to do whatever it takes to get every dime they possibly can, including rotting the government out from the inside with this kind of blatant bribery and baksheesh. Of course, our politicians and their staff line up like little piggies at the trough of corporate money and will NEVER do anything that will seriously impact the availability of that money, despite frequent claims of trying to do so. I’m pretty much of the opinion that it is no longer fixable without a radical change of some kind. And until it gets fixed, we will have a government that colludes with corporations to screw the rest of us.

    1. i also believe we need reform. think about our principals in the founding of this system. we stole the land from its native people and didn’t comprehend why they lived the way they did – uncivilized. the native people mastered the land and understood that treating it respectfully and humanely would allow it to provide for them through all seasons, forever. instead the settlers and founders of our current system mastered objects and choked the land to death, providing only a cyclical system of creating and objectifying more physical material. our land can be reborn. we can fix this to the degree that it will provide for us without having to enslave each other to exploit resources and create more objects to feed the cycle. but would you give up civilization to do so? our government still believes these objectifications are worth killing for. and our people are still voting them in.

      1. It would be impossible to return to the simple agricultural/horticulturalist/hunter-gatherer societies that existed pre-contact without a massive reduction in population. It would be a tough sell to convince 75%+ of the population that they need to go. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, native cultures also periodically overtaxed local resources resulting in societal collapse. The “noble savage” fallacy is just that: a fallacy. Looking to the distant past to find solutions to our problems ignores the reality that it is the complex social constructs we have assembled that keep most of us alive. Perhaps we can find a way to end corruption in government that doesn’t require a massive die off….

        1. The “native cultures” that undermined their own agricultural bases were invariably some form of civilization, so “native cultures” is a little misleading.  Most hunter gatherer tribes do end up with a population density that very closely matches the resources available by sustainably hunting and harvesting in the local environment.  They often enforce this “ideal” population density by inducing abortion or committing infanticide.

          You’re thinking of complex societies like the Easter islanders and the Mayans.  They destroyed their agricultural bases for the same reasons we’re doing the same now: they had population densities well beyond what the local environment could support.  Our problem is that the “local environment” is pretty much the whole earth at this point.

          1. The Maya, Easter Islanders and the Chacoan civilizations were all native cultures, so I’m not sure how my statement is misleading. Incidentally, it is certainly possible for hunter gatherer groups to exhaust the local environment, but when they upstakes for greener pastures they don’t leave any ruins behind. None of this changes the fact that we cannot support our current population using any of the approaches adopted by native groups. Lets hope for a less catastrophic means of getting our problems under control.

  6. I think the only thing that isn’t allowed are bribes specifically referred to as such. Be tricky to write a law forbidding such a thing, of course. After all, conflict of interest laws only apply to the politician, not their staff. Certainly would make me think long and hard about the true motivations of the former employers, though.

    1. The corporatist media would like you to believe the OWS movement is over, but in reality the goals weren’t to sit in tents.  The goals are to educate the public and it’s working.

      Brutal state crackdowns haven’t stopped us.  It was expected from the beginning and they’ve energized us.

      Our weapons are information.  In the Information Age an educated populace trumps pitchforks, torches and shotguns.  That’s where the true battle lies and we’re gaining ground and strength against the corporatist FUD machine and lies every day.

      It’s a long, difficult struggle to educate complacent, apathetic Americans… but we are no ways tired.  People like these treasonous congressional staffers are being exposed for what they are and people are finally reacting.

      Will this turn out to be the worst American generation in the history of the United States or the greatest one?  Well, that all depends on you, doesn’t it?

      1. as long as the people are hungry, they will fight for food to eat. politicians are still trying to feed us lies but we’re hungry for changes. the system is designed to silence the people. the president is designed to be the person the people believe is the literal chief of our entire nation but that is not even close to being true. the ‘congress’ can change and create laws and can strong arm the president’s will because they claim to be the voice of the people – and they are, we voted them in on a much more personal level – by districts of areas we live in. we’re seeing this now. i never heard these people’s names before and now i see them on tv all the time. who are these celebrities? we need to start recalling some of those seats claiming to be the voice of the people. all they’re feeding us is the adhesive side of duct tape.

  7. It’s pretty clear why Lawrence Lessig decided to move upstream from Creative Commons to 

    Am really sick of the “one dollar one vote” political system that I live in.

  8. Sad, really, how corrupt the system is.  What is sometimes forgotten by many is that this is how it works on both sides of any issue no matter how noble it seems when our bureaucratic apparatus as it exists now is put to the task. Wouldnt we all like to see newer and more stringent regulation regarding climate change? Or nutrition? Racial equality? Fair banking practices?You name it, any issue no matter how well intentioned it is, rest assured the same kind of tactics involving career opportunities for ambitious and maybe even well intentioned, idealistic, career oriented professionals, wielding tons of cash will grease the way, and it is this that so many find so repulsive about any kind of program one might wish for. Furthermore the solutions proposed, whether by the Tea Party or the OWS folk, always seems to  be prison for the perceived wrong doer and the creation of yet another program that somehow will be different if only we believe.  Wisdom seems to be as elusive as ever.

  9. This is a shakedown. If the tech industry fails to begin lobbying Congress with large dollars, then they’re going to get punitive laws passed that mess with their bottom lines.

    The U.S. is a banana republic, and our lawmakers are little more than a legal version of the mafia at this point.

    SOPA is a legal variation of the protection racket. Give Congress money, or we’ll pass laws that fuck up your revenue model.

    1. Hhahaha, At least the mafia took their fair share and ran what they own like a business, you know what cattle is,at the moment in the govt. eyes thats us: whats a vampire ? Corps and Govt. get the idea, were being bled dry

    2. But this isn’t a solution, it only exacerbates the problem and creates a situation where legislaton goes to the highest bidder.

  10. When I work for, let’s say, a cookie company I have to sign a waiver saying I can’t work for another cookie company for anywhere from 6 to 12 months after I leave. This is standard practice in most industries.

    Could you not get government employes to have similar waivers – you draft something, you can’t work in that industry for 12 months after you leave government. Period.

    Oh, but that would be treating the 1% just like everyone else, and we can’t have that.

    1. Non-compete clauses are standard practice but hardly ever enforced (except for a few very high-profile cases) even in the US.  In Europe these clauses have been shot down everywhere. 

      This doesn’t stop employers (on both sides of the pond) from adding them and try to pull a fast one on powerless employees.

      1. (Note that I wouldn’t be against explicitly waiving this sort of worker rights for civil servants and political staff above certain levels of income or responsibility, as long as it’s an exception and doesn’t trickle down to standard working regulations).

    2. i used to be a marine, which is dod so it may be different… but through having a temporary billet as a purchaser of contracts i learned how things ‘work’ for g-men, or civil servants, which was the pc phrase for the people in the dod who were contractors. since the government employs based on contracting, they’ll generally hire the highest-qualified but lowest asking contractor. that was how the department of defense worked all the way down to the last civilian employee holding a government billet. at least in my experience, when you’ve got a good job, and your bi-polar government boss who flies off the handle for little things like not looking like a g-man between the hours of  6 am and 5 pm, and he comes at you with the ‘good’ mood saying, ‘we need this billet filled like – today’ are you going to take your time and find a good candidate or are you going to check the database that other people are also keeping up to date – including the highlight and circled guy on the printed-out-version your crazy boss personally handed to you? oh and the contract will take most of the day to finish up with and get signatures for. most people who need to sign it can only be reached during a window of around 2 pm and 4 because they’re off in the secret building doing secure video teleconferences with folks in dc. i’m totally assuming though that the other departments operate similarly. but it would make sense to me, at least, that they would.

  11. The sad fact of the matter is that the politicians have the American public so divided along party lines that we are unable to come together to stop the corruption. The American public just isn’t willing to admit just how dirty both parties are. They still cling to the idea that their supported party is the answer to all that ails the country.

    1. This kind of FOX News style false equivalence crap pisses me off.  Obama suggested a ban on this exact kind of crap as a candidate, and there have been bills related to it the last three years, the latest one from one of the congressmen from Rhode Island.  As with the others, it was filibustered by the Republicans.  

        1. Except uh, the exact opposite.  I showed that your point was bullshit false equivalence.  You say they’re both corrupt, I point out that one side voted to ban the corruption in question but was prevented by the other, and you… claim they’re both the same?  Seriously?

          If one side voted to do what you want, and the other side prevented it, how is it that they’re both the same? How does that even make any sense?

          1. They “tried” but you’ll note it didn’t happen. However, the health care bill did pass. It’s a big show, to fool people like you into thinking you can trust “your” party. Hint: if you don’t have a LOT of money, it isn’t yours.

    2. to quote Scott Adams from his blog, an article about persuasive politics contained, “As citizens, the worst thing we can do is reward either party for their atrocious performance. My one-term presidency would be similar to a parent giving a misbehaving child a time out. Republicans and Democrats would have four years to reflect on what they did wrong.”

    3. one nation dividing votes between two parties; worst case scenario: 50% party a, 50% party b; no majority can be determined.

      one nation divided by three parties; worst case scenario: 50% party a, 25% party b, 25% party c; party a becomes the majority because party b changed their votes to the intriguing party c, and party a is too scared to vote for anyone besides party a thus granting party a majority leadership privileges.

      how do we get around that? i mean if party a won’t even consider anything but party a, they are always the majority. and the fear of anything else keeps people voting for their respective majority parties.

      1. First you have to get the politicians to actually say where they stand during elections, instead of just slinging mud at each other. Voters feel disenfranchised by both parties and if they do vote it is for the incumbent because it is better the devil you know.

        At one time the parties drafted a platform with each plank being an issue that the candidates of the parties actually talked up during the elections. Now when a person decides to run for office they have to be squeaky clean or hide the dirt so far into the ground that it won’t be dug up.

        One of the best messages that voters could send is that the dirt doesn’t matter. Insist that the politician take a stand. Good politicians are alpha type individuals and more often than not are also likely to have an overactive libido. Howard Cain had a vision and also apparently many women he saw regularly. JFK as well. The difference is that JFK’s supporters didn’t care about what he did on the mattress, only what he did in the office. As much as I cringe at the idea of Howard Cain’s vision, at least people know were he stood.

      2. Practically speaking this is not an issue in countries where the system is set up for multiple parties.

        If you get a 50/25/25 split, which is … exceedingly unlikely, but ok: Party A has a majority, and can lead alone. If people get even slightly tired of them, they’ll lose a few votes, and maybe the next election is 48/27/25. Suddenly, both A+B, A+C and B+C are valid blocks, and which one you end up with depends on who wants to cooperate.

        Realistically, you have more than three parties (the previous election here placed 7 parties in the parliament), and the coalitions are negotiated before the election. Practically speaking that means that voting for a party is voting for the coalition they’re in (unless they get so many votes they can drop some or all the coalition partners) – but which party in the coalition you vote for still matters, since it changes the direction and focus of the coalition as a whole.

        Incidentally, that’s one effect I feel is a bit weak in the US system: Simply voting for a party doesn’t help the party understand which direction you want them to go in. The only real feedback is in the primaries, and even that only really applies if you’re not trying to re-elect a sitting president.

      3. how do we get around that?

        In principle, by getting a better voting system. For single-seat elections (president, mayor), something like Beatpath seems good; for multiple-seat elections (parliement, senate, congress, council) some form of proportional representation (possibly with a Debian-style Beatpath system to decide laws and resolutions).

        Beatpath is rather kinder to compromise candidates (and positions) than first-past-the-post or even instant-runoff; in many situations, the compromise is a pretty good outcome, all things considered.

        In practice, nobody likes to change the system that got them into office. After all, it’s not likely a substantially modified system would continue to elect them.

  12. So, when are people going to start ignoring all the sort of content made by these industries? Not torrenting, not remixing, not anything. Not even “boycotting.” Ignoring altogether. Dropping out of Big Content culture.

  13. Since Allison Halataei and Lauren Pastarnack do not support Net Neutrality or liberty and justice for all can someone please hack their personal computers and mobile phones sometime soon and show them the error of their ways ?

  14. They “tried” but you’ll note it didn’t happen. However, the health care bill did pass.

    Um, I take it you need a refresher on how congress works?  50 votes to pass a bill in the Senate, 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.  The health care law law passed with 60 Democratic votes while the party had that many votes, overcoming the Republican filibuster.
    The latest lobbying ban bills didn’t pass because the Democrats lost that super-majority with the death of Ted Kennedy, and weren’t able to overcome the Republican filibuster any longer.

  15. you’ve got to play ball. in one way or another. or you die in this country. are we free? try living a week somewhere without access to money.

    1. good lord can you imagine the propaganda they’d be using to try and stop the people? imagine if congress felt threatened. they’d freakin’ screw the people: get rid of our arts, cut our state’s fundings, use taxes to buy corporate shares for corporate rebirth when that money could be well spent a billion better ways including giving it directly to the soon-to-be jobless employees instead, sell out the lawmaking process… oh wait, wait… they’re already doing that now!

      we have nothing left to lose. they cannot deploy troops on unarmed civilian non-combatant citizens on domestic lands. that is exactly why you don’t want to even hide a weapon at a protest or treat your body like a weapon. that is the key to victory – consistently remain nonviolent and loud as hell. be heard. make a priority effort to get to know every single citizen around you. find the morons with the weapons early on and banish them from their posts. kick them out for good. they are idiots and missed the point, just like lots of our congress members.

      play the game the right way. they want a game? play back but follow the rules. if they tell you to move, wait until it’s official and then simply move to another location. it doesn’t mean you can’t move back in a few days or weeks. they can’t evict the public from the public permanently. only temporarily. if they try to pull ‘safety’ issues, ask for a safety inspection and report. turn to one of the pages and ask them to clarify a random paragraph of your choosing. catch them on film and get it online asap. if they try to pull ‘building code’ issues, ask for the same and ask for specifics – how long must we suspend our occupation for? if  the time frame is excessive, ask for justification and most importantly – other examples where such excessive eviction has ever been necessary in the history of the respective city, county, state and country. basically, call them out. make them listen by holding them accountable at every – single – step. and tell them without high quality justification for every step, there is no way to  make informed decisions to abandon our posts as protesters. if they lawyer you, lawyer them back with common english words that everyone young and old understands. if you don’t understand them, make that extremely clear immediately. you don’t need to hire a lawyer, you can ask for extreme clarification in order to make a well informed decision. but don’t settle for ‘their word’. get quality, legibly signed documentation and evidence to make sure they are listening and understanding what we’re protesting for, and what they’re evicting us from our posts for. if you can’t read the signature on something, refuse to accept that it is real, ask one of them to clarify the specific person that signed it and have them clearly initial, sign and date that neither of you know who signed in the first place.

      most importantly, and reiterating further: outsmart these fuckin assholes! we’re the ones fighting, we’re the ones who are hungry, we’re the ones putting in all the sacrifices and we’re the ones who are being silenced. no more. stand up for yourselves, your families and your future.

      they have the nerve to say we don’t know what we’re protesting for. ask them what they’re running for. ask them what the constitution’s for. ask them what the country’s for. ask them what are rights for. you’ll hear some canned, insincere bullshit guaranteed. and again, catch them on tape. get it online asap.

      1. Don’t just be non-violent. Also be non turd. Your sentiment is sound, your commitment to nonviolence is admirable, and your stated tactics are a turd that will get your teeth knocked in.  

  16. Am I allowed to call these two scumbags worthless whores and money- loving prostitutes? Or would that be wrong?

    1. Yes, it would be wrong. These folks are selling the people to big business, while prostitutes are only selling sexual favors, they have little political influence, and they often face police harassment for it. Don’t tar prostitutes with the same brush as politicians.

  17. Gee, I don’t understand why so many Americans feel disenfranchised with politics, corporations,  and that they are powerless. This is exactly the things the occupy movement is fighting.

  18. Lawrence Lessig’s presentation on his new book Republic Lost points to this revolving door between government office and corporations as a key to the career goals of congresswomen and men and their aids. I recommend his presentation to the Commonwealth Club: or if you prefer to see his power point presentation and can handle the corporate sponsorship @Google:

  19. Regarding Allison Halataei, Lauren Pastarnack and all of the others like them, I wish to quote Pink Floyd:

    “Get ’em up against the wall”

  20. Wow!
    The internet is so ‘free” that I not only have to pay through the nose (for service, energy to run said service, computer, gadget– & this isn’t to mention the externalized-by-the-moguls–yet-never-mentioned-by-the Internet-“electorate” environmental issues like the toxic waste created by all the thrown-out gadgets for which there is not even a plan in place, much less a tax on the manufacturers, the impact of rare-mineral-mining, slave-labor in third-world countries, insourcing & outsourcing that both displace the Amercian worker, etc.) that I have to register ( i.e. ‘document’ myself) in order to make a goshdarn comment on bb. Unlike pirating music, which, I understand, is pretty easy if one is so inclined.
    The contention that SOPA is a runaway-train to the Internet’s armageddon remains unsubstantiated by a single factoid in either the article or the many consensus comments here (as many as I could read).
    If, in fact, there are ‘ill-conceived” ramifications, why not ‘disqus’ them rationally, rather than talking about how ‘evil’ RIAA is, how terrible National Music Publishers” Association (I personally can’t think of anything more evil than music-publishers) & the Motion Pitcher Biz are. One commenter begrudgingly admits that., were RIAA, etc, the only ones to benefit from (gasp!) stopping piracy, it wouldn’t be so doggone horrible, but that somehow, in some undefined way, the problem lies with how unnamed others will use or abuse the act.
    Maybe there are problems with the act. Short of specifics it’s hard to say, but to compare the sainted internet & its billionaire corporate conglomerate  to “Native Americans” & compare musicians trying to be compensated for or even profit from their own work (& music is as much work as anything else; otherwise- MAKE YOUR OWN damn music!) to the evil white man’s genocide of the indians is not only heavy-handed, it’s upside down.
    The Internet came along & stole from musicians, not the other way around.
    As for whether or not it’s ethical to write legislation & subsequently work for RIAA, it doesn’t delineate the supposed problems with the legislation. Conflicts of interest abound– the Internet critiquing the internet might be considered one. A Boingboing writer who is making a living off the Internet might be considered conflicted & might have a vested interest in business-as-usual.
    One more thing: SOPA is regulation. Corporations, &  for that matter people, do not, sadly,  always behave ethically without rules. The first 20 years of the internet have borne this out.
     The Internet is no more a person, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Disqus, BoingBoing for that matter, are no more people, than any other corporation or conglomerate. One commenter says Google hasn’t lobbied in the past because it is so high-minded.
    That assertion, along with all the “I <3 the Internet because it's my friend & it's not a major money-making enterprise" hyperbole on here is just that. And it's kind of embarrassing.

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