Petition: investigate Chris Dodd for fraud

A petition to the White House asks for an official investigation of former senator and now-MPAA CEO Chris Dodd, who strongly implied that he believes his members' contributions to election campaigns are bribes.

“This is an open admission of bribery and a threat designed to provoke a specific policy goal. This is a brazen flouting of the ‘above the law’ status people of Dodd’s position and wealth enjoy,” the petition reads.

“We demand justice. Investigate this blatant bribery and indict every person, especially government officials and lawmakers, who is involved.”

In just a few hours the petition amassed more than 5,000 [ed: now 6,000] votes and this number is increasing rapidly. As a former Senator, Chris Dodd has many friends in Washington so it’s unclear whether the petition will accomplish anything, but if the numbers grow big enough the White House won’t be able to ignore it either.

White House Petitioned to Investigate MPAA Bribery


  1. I have mixed feelings on this.  The MPAA thing is awful and I’m not going to defend that, but I’ve always liked Dodd.  Even if he is corrupt, I’d prefer him over a neo-con DINO who had to run as an Independent to win.

    1. This, this right here is the problem. People are more loyal to their parties than they are to their principles (or their country). This “the worst Democrat is better than the best Republican” crap is exactly why the worst Dems keep getting elected (and apply that equally to the worst Republicans who keep getting elected by their drone constituencies). We keep getting the worst both sides have to offer because we keep lowering the bar over and over to prevent the “other guys” from winning at all cost.

      We’ve turned politics into a competition that must be won rather than a process of public discourse that we are all ultimately supposed to benefit from.

      1. I don’t think you know me well enough to pigeonhole me like that, and I characterize Lieberman that way because that’s objectively what he is.

        That said, the point you make is relevant so I’ll let you use me as your straw man.

          1. See, this is why there’s no room for civil debate on the internet.  Try to concede a minor point of ego for the sake of conversation and people would rather trash your ego than have the conversation.

            PS. I don’t think you know how quotes work.

      2. I totally agree, and it’s not limited to the US – partisan politics has seemingly transformed into a kind of tribal alliance where we go off to defend every asshole just because he’s part of our party, and deride every opposition idea because it didn’t come from our side (whether it is a good idea or not).

    2. What I never got is why exactly Dodd got into this — I mean, I live in California, where even the reasonable politicians like Barbara Boxer are in the pocket of Hollywood on the grounds that film is our local industry, etc. etc. And I could easily see the MPAA being the exit strategy for such folk given the connections they made. But wasn’t Dodd from Connecticut?

    3. Even as a purely tactical matter, given that Dodd’s career as a substantially-better-than-the-alternative senator is quite likely over(he isn’t getting any younger, and getting a lobbying gig rather than running an election campaign suggests limited further political ambition), why should Dodd the senator(now a past-tense entity) modify our treatment of Dodd the lobbyist(the Dodd who actually exists now)?

      Dodd the senator was a reasonably OK guy, particularly by the standards of those around him. Dodd the lobbyist, so far, wouldn’t deserve to be spit on if he were on fire. 

      In his present capacity, there is essentially nothing likeable about the guy. Why give him any credit now for past behavior he is very unlikely to repeat?

        1. Yeah. Unfortunately, corporate whoring is usually the place where politicians that manage to be decent on social and non-copyright civil liberties issues tend to fall flat(as do politicians generally; but there seems to be a slightly wider niche for religious radicals and social reactionaries whose nativism and economic nationalism make them rather fair-weather friends of corporatists than there is for social lefties, for whatever reason)…

    4. Good guy/bad party, bad guy/good party. Looks like a race to the bottom founded on fear to me. In the nineteenth century it was common for MPs to cross the house/floor (I forget the correct term),ie change parties in the UK. Career politics makes this almost impossible.

      1. It’s called “cross the isle” here, as there’s a isle between the seats in the house chamber, and originally the dems were on one side, repubs on the other (in modern times there are too many people to actually do that, however).

        That said, that really isn’t the issue here.  It’s the fact that he’s bitching about laws (that he voted FOR) inhibiting him in his current job: using his buddy-buddy “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” connections of his former job in his new job.

        That is, he made friends in congress, and now that he’s not a senator, he’s trying to get laws passed on behalf of his current employer by asking his friends to vote “yea” on the bill.

        It’s an “inmates running the prison” issue and then having moved from “operator” to “inmate” (to use the analogy) he’s trying to break a rule he created because it’s “unfair” to him in his new position.

        1. I do understand the specifics, but I believe a more general point was made about party politics in its present form too. Maybe I was mistaken.
          (Shouldn’t that be aisle?)

    5. I’d rather not have ANY corrupt people. Moral equivalency only breeds more corruption. I’m sick of the status quo. We need to demand that people are ethical and hold them to it. No more special deals for favored companies, no more laws that don’t apply to congress.

  2. More specifically than ‘bribery'(which is what much of the lobbying and campaign fundraising game is; but seems to be broadly accepted), it is my understanding (not my graphic design, thankfully) that a senator Must Not, full stop, engage in the sort of lobbying activities which Dodd overtly committed on national television, much less the ones he is presumably paid by the MPAA to do on a daily basis.

    It would certainly be nice to see the wider issue of bribery being essentially legal if conducted according to the correct legal fictions being tackled; but I suspect that Dodd is not at serious risk. However, if what he is up to now, less than two years out of office, isn’t a trivial violation of Senate ethics rules, what is?

    1. Phish, your link took me to ‘page not found’.
      Here’s the text of the existing law Dodd appears to have violated.  His alledged ethics violation is a criminal matter under this law.

        1. Could be the open-parens too close in the original… anyway, it seems Disqus best digests links that are unmasked on their own line as in your second one, which is working fine.

          Nice clear line in your linked document:

          For two years after leaving office, Senators cannot contact any Member, officer, or employee of the Congress on someone else’s behalf (except the United States) in order to influence their official activities.

          Hard to misinterpret that. 

          1. Has he directly contacted any Member, officer, or employee?  Or has he very specifically avoided talking to anyone directly about this issue, instead using generalizations (as in this interview) and simply directing his lobbyist underlings on who to talk to?

        2. If you bork your html, that’s what appears. When you copied and pasted a long URL, it ended up with a line break. If your html doesn’t work, all you have to do is just edit your comment to fix it.

  3. Unfortunately this is likely to go nowhere since no politician in Washtington, Republican or Democrat wants their campaign contributions vs votes / bills sponsored scrutinized that closely.

    Also the people who would be investigating are the same people taking the bribes so again, nothing will happen,

    1. You sound like you used to be one of the authors of “Yes Minister”.
      e.g. (paraphrased from memory) “Minister the purpose of a leak inquiry is not to find the leak, it’s  to be seen to be trying to find a leak. Goodness me, where would we be if enquiries went around getting results” and much more government hilarity!

  4. Investigating Chris Dodd is not sufficient. He admitted to bribing government officials. The asshats who took the bribe money are just as guilty of a Federal crime as Dodd. All of them must be dealt with. An investigation would be nice, but a public flogging would be more exemplary.

    1. Generally speaking, if it’s found that he’s been bribing government officials, it’ be damn well insured they’d figure out who and investigate THEM too.  But then, to use the quote above… “Minister the purpose of a leak inquiry is not to find the leak, it’s  to be seen to be trying to find a leak. Goodness me, where would we be if inquiries went around getting results.”

  5. I signed it, but wish the creator of the petition would correct his misspelling in the title. Not that bad spellers shouldn’t be taken seriously…

  6. I’ll sign it just as a statement of rebuke to Dodd. 

    However, remember that the Justice Department is firewalled off from direct control by the executive branch to prevent even the appearance of political influence on prosecutorial discretion. 

    The Attorney General is the official to whom this petition must be directed. Similarly, the House and Senate ethics committees could be petitioned to investigate the matter as it relates to their members.

  7. Signed and posted about it in Connecticut. I think the best outcome from this will be forcing Dodd to resign as MPAA lobbyist. He’s not done the MPAA any favors at this point, and he doesn’t have the tactical know-how (apparently) to retrench and try the next legislative assault. Now Connecticut has the distinction of spawning Lieberman on regulating video games, Blumenthal on banning Beer Pong video games, and Dodd on regulating the Internet. There must be something in the water.

  8. As a Internet user who isn’t of US origin, I always see things like this petition with a little sadness. 

    It’s a brilliant thing to do, and I would love to put my name behind it, but I always feel wrong in doing so not being a US citizen.

    The changes that have been proposed by Senator Dodd are likely going to affect millions of people around the globe such as myself.

    As such I’d like to remind US posters that when it comes to combating these types of bills we’re effectively (as citizens of the web, but not national citizens) dis-enfranchised.

    All the same I’d like to say thank you to every US  citizen who has opposed these bills by signing petitions or contacting their Senator or other relevant government officials, as it’s something I’m not able to do.

  9. All campaign donations are bribes. You don’t give a politician money without expecting anything in return.  It is the reason politicians become politicians; money and power. Limits have to be set as to what you can spend on a campaign, and all of it has to be clearly documented, along with sources of funding that aren’t hidden behind a company inside a company. Violation of it would mean loosing your ability to become an elected official.

    1. Although I don’t wholly disagree, one could see that perhaps a political contribution could be because the donor supports the policies of the candidate. Clearly there’s a fine line between cash following policies and policies following cash.

      1. Seems to me that all this cash creates a bias towards candidates who happen to share either by conviction or corruption, the political views and interests of the people with the most contribution money to spend… 

  10. I think one of the ultimate naiveties on the part Americans is that campaign contributions aren’t a form of bribery.  Is there always quid pro quo?  No, but there certainly is an underlying premise that money can get you anything you want, which has been the norm since civilization began.  Money has always been speech, those with more can speak more, and most importantly, be heard more.

    1. Individual, small contributions are not a form of bribery. When I donated to Obama in 2008, or to the senate campaigns of particularly progressive candidates for races outside my state, the only “quid pro quo” is the small hope that helping to get a good candidate elected will lead to improvements for {me|the country|the world}.

      Obviously, you’re talking about the big money contributions, but small money contributions still exist. While less than 10% of the Romney’s warchest is from donations under $200, nearly half of Obama’s warchest comes from small donations, and same for Ron Paul and Bachmann.

      The question is, how to get campaign finance back to the state where it’s the $200 donations that make all the difference, and not the $5 million donations.

  11. If I managed to create an organization that was in favor of high speed rail, and we said publically that we would give huge sums of money to the election campaigns of any candidate that was publically vocal about their support for HSR, and would give none to any candidate that ever said anything bad about HSR, would be guilty of bribery?

    1. I think it would only be bribery if you actually gave them money.  Just saying you’re going to do it isn’t the same as actually committing the crime.

      However, the issue in question with Dodd is about his possible contact  with lawmakers where he is expressly forbidden to do so at this time.

      1.  The petition doesn’t mention this law. It cites Dodd speaking publically about the MPAA’s attitude toward politicans who publically speak out against things the MPAA is in favor of. It says that is a clear cut case of bribery.

        I don’t doubt that the MPAA and others are in any reasonable sense of the word trying to bribe various elected (and trying-to-get-elected) people. But I’m not sure that its useful to use the term when doing so fails to distinguish between behaviour that is illegal and an affront to most people’s understanding of how things should be, and behaviour consisting of “don’t ask us to support you financially if you act against our interests”.

        1. He said, “Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”

          Essentially saying that he writes checks to government officials to get them elected so that they can pass laws that allow him to keep his job.

          1. Is it bribery if a collection of logging company employees offer to pay a candidate on the basis that s/he will vote against/veto legislation that they believe will end their jobs?

  12. I find it extremely improbable that the White House or Justice Department would even consider launching a criminal investigation into an industry rep for criticizing a policy his industry favors. It would be widely perceived as retaliation, and would carry an enormous political cost.

  13. This is strange. I opened it in Firefox on my desktop:
    21,514 signatures already.

    “Oh, It’s not auto-logged me in”, I said. “I’ll try on my laptop.”
    21,473 signatures already.

    “Well, that’s curious,” I said. “They seem to have *lost* about 40 signatures in the space of a couple of minutes.”

    Refreshing the two pages (in the order desktop, laptop) gives: 21,612 desktop vs 21,546 laptop.

    My *guess* about why is that they are running on a cluster, and the stats aren’t instantaneously updated across the whole cluster.

  14. At 6am on Saturday morning I created this petition in a fit of nerd rage.

    Less than 72 hours later and we’re well set to pass the 25,000 signature threshold, and I’ve had a 400+ comment slashdot submission accepted and been posted by Cory Fucking Doctorow.

    I think I just gained two levels worth of nerdxp.

    1. Thank you, Michael Leza, for doing this.  At the time of this writing the petition has passed the 25,000 signature threshold.  I hope it gets 250,000.

  15. Bah!  I signed the petition.  And I gave $250 to Dodd for his 2008 Presidential campaign because he promised to filibuster the bill giving immunity to telecoms that helped the government spy on Americans.  What I didn’t understand at the time was that he was only going to filibuster it for a short while.  They were eventually given their immunity, and I don’t recall it requiring cloture.

  16. I couldn’t sign this petition, as I’m pretty sure that’s an example of Chris Dodd flaunting his position, not flouting it. Maybe he’s flouting the law by making that statement?

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