Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Comcast Executives Appear To Share Cozy Relationships With Regulators

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the how-totally-amazing dept.

Government 63

v3rgEz (125380) writes A month before Comcast's announcement of a $45B takeover of rival Time-Warner, Comcast's top lobbyist invited the US government's top antitrust regulators to share the company's VIP box at the Sochi Olympics. A Freedom of Information Act request from Muckrock reveals that the regulators reluctantly declined, saying "it sounds like so much fun" but the pesky "rules folks" would frown on it, instead suggesting a more private dinner later.

cancel ×

63 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

That's nothing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380015)

Several people in the media are married (literally) to people in the Obama Administration.
 

Re:That's nothing (2)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 3 months ago | (#47380581)

The circles of power are incestuous! News at 11!

Christ, is this really what passes for news on slashdot these days? "Appears"? Pull the other one!

Re:That's nothing (3, Informative)

ShaunC (203807) | about 3 months ago | (#47380805)

And that's hardly anything new, either. Andrea Mitchell of NBC married Alan Greenspan in 1997; he was Chairman of the Fed at the time, and continued in that role until 2006. Nice little bit of "extraordinary access" NBC had there during Clinton's and W's presidencies.

where what! (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 3 months ago | (#47380033)

suggesting a more private dinner where Joozian Three Way orgy was performed

Re:where what! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 3 months ago | (#47380571)

and you'll end up in a com cast.

Not a VIP box at the Olympics (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380055)

They invited them to a party Comcast was throwing at the Newseum in D.C., which is a far cry from "the company's VIP box at the Sochi Olympics."

Re:Not a VIP box at the Olympics (5, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 3 months ago | (#47380153)

Wish I had mod points, since AC has it right. If you check the document attached with the article, page 26 has the actual invitation itself, and it clearly says the event is in D.C., rather than in Sochi, and there's no mention at all of a VIP box or anything of the sort. This story went from "Comcast cordially invited them to an opening ceremony event at the Newseum" in the actual invitation to "Comcast invited them to an event for the Sochi opening ceremony" in the article to "Comcast invited them to a VIP box at Sochi" in the \. summary.

It's a non-story. Just regular schmoozing. Though the fact that regular schmoozing is a non-story might be a story in and of itself...

Cronyism at its finest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380287)

"It's a non-story. Just regular schmoozing. Though the fact that regular schmoozing is a non-story might be a story in and of itself..."

Exactly. Government cronyism is at an all time high under the current administration and most Americans could care less, don't care at all or are completely ignorant of the current state of politics.

*sighs*

Re:Cronyism at its finest. (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about 3 months ago | (#47381209)

It's been at that all-time high for several decades now at least. Yes, no one cares much about it or at least not enough people to make it stop.

Re:Not a VIP box at the Olympics (1)

kolbe (320366) | about 3 months ago | (#47380519)

Agreed, gave him one of my mod points hehe.

Checked the article myself, it lines up with what AC is saying.

Re:Not a VIP box at the Olympics (2)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 3 months ago | (#47381505)

Then invalidated the mod point by posting in the same discussion..

Re:Not a VIP box at the Olympics (1)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | about 2 months ago | (#47382103)

Then invalidated the mod point by posting in the same discussion..

I modded this insightful.

Re:Not a VIP box at the Olympics (1)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 2 months ago | (#47382803)

I modded this redundant.

Re:Not a VIP box at the Olympics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47384375)

Well I modded this funny.

Re:Not a VIP box at the Olympics (2)

Roger Wilcox (776904) | about 3 months ago | (#47380603)

It's a non-story. Just regular schmoozing. Though the fact that regular schmoozing is a non-story might be a story in and of itself...

The takeaway here is that Comcast is in bed with industry regulators. While we all knew this already, we shouldn't allow that fact to cloud our judgement about the obviously unacceptable state of current affairs.

This email clearly shows a cordial relationship between the correspondents. It should be illegal for corporations to make this kind of offer to a regulator, and it should be illegal for a regulator to have any kind of social contact with industry lobbyists. Hell, a meeting between regulators and lobbyists can't even rightly be framed as a business meeting, because private corporations don't have any business negotiating terms when it comes to legislative oversight. If private industry has something to say to the legislature, or if the legislature needs guidance from private industry, the exchange should occur in an open forum without need of gifts or galavanting.

If this doesn't count as a conflict of interest for the regulators in question, what does? Those "rules folks" ought to have a damn similar opinion about that dinner...

Re:Not a VIP box at the Olympics (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 3 months ago | (#47381211)

Maybe they invited the "rules folks" too?

Just regular schmoozing (1)

phorm (591458) | about 2 months ago | (#47383653)

Really, though, they shouldn't be inviting their *regulators* to anything other than functions related to regulation.

I'm not sure what the uproar is... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380105)

I hate Comcast/Time Warner as much as the next guy but... I work in sourcing and this is the exact type of email I would send back to a vendor that is overstepping reasonable G&E (gift and entertainment) bounds. What else should they have said? Just not responded? Jeez.

Re:I'm not sure what the uproar is... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380129)

Yes, this is indeed normal. People at large companies like where I work have to go through refresher training on things like gifts to public employees (basically we can't even take them to lunch without multiple approvals and filing government forms) and also in things like the foreign anti-corrupt practices act, etc. These folks declined like they were supposed to. Comcast on the other hand would have had to file lobbying forms, etc. if the officials had accepted. I wonder if those would have actually been filed? Or maybe just "lost"?

Re:I'm not sure what the uproar is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380163)

yeah I really want those golf clubs and vacation rental...

Re:I'm not sure what the uproar is... (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#47380167)

I had that same thought. This is SOP for any professional relationship. The language in the e-mail is very informal but polite, also SOP. Where's the smoking gun here?

Re:I'm not sure what the uproar is... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380173)

Just to be clear, I take the response that they made to actually be better than not responding or saying "no thanks" - by bringing up the "rule folks" it clearly indicated that the request was improper to begin with and is a polite way of telling the lobbyist to stop sending such invitations.

Re:I'm not sure what the uproar is... (1)

jandrese (485) | about 2 months ago | (#47385069)

Either that of you could read it as "Jesus Christ, an email? Why didn't you just hand type it and deliver it? You want to leave a paper trail?!?! Just how new are you to lobbying? Never leave a paper trail that the rules guys might find, they're total buzzkills. By the way, I'll be at the country club next Thursday if you want to discuss anything--it's not bugged."

I'm not sure what the uproar is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47383891)

What else should they have said?

Uhm here's a thought.

Thanks, but no thanks, that violates all sorts of boundaries.
You and your company are hereby notified that you are now on the proscribed list - do not, in any way, shape, or form, attempt to communicate with anyone in this or any future government, ever again.

Thank you for showing your true colors you filthy scumbags!

Sincerely,

Government officials that "cannot be bought".

Say it ain't so. . . (4, Interesting)

Idou (572394) | about 3 months ago | (#47380107)

I suppose I could go into a rant and write a long post lamenting the influence of the wealthy on our government. However, I think I will just shut-up and do something about it instead by going here [mayday.us] and doubling my pledge. . .

Re:Say it ain't so. . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380691)

Thanks for pledging more money because the fucking fucktard who wrote the summary either lied or doesn't know how to read.
 
LOLZZZZ!!!!!

Re:Say it ain't so. . . (3, Interesting)

Idou (572394) | about 3 months ago | (#47380817)

I see, so because the poster (who could be supporting the agenda of either side) exaggerated, Comcast's invitation is now completely kosher (how many regulator have you schmoozed lately, regardless of the venue?), and the U.S. no longer has a regulatory capture problem that needs to be addressed. . .

You know, for awhile I thought it was the overwhelming power of the wealthy that prevented change, but now I get the sense that it is the underwhelming intellectual capability of people like yourself that are dragging us down. Happy 4th. . .

Re:Say it ain't so. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47385195)

Schmoozing is part of sales. Both private and public customers get that.

Inviting people to events like this is an opportunity to talk to them, not so much a "gift".

I've been invited to boxes by vendors before (I do not work for the government) and gone over and didn't buy their stuff because it was too expensive and I could have done everything with FOSS products.

I understand the rules around government schmoozing and all, but not all of it is nefarious.

Re:Say it ain't so. . . (1)

Idou (572394) | about 2 months ago | (#47387867)

"Schmoozing is part of sales"
Exactly and when the regulated schmoozes the regulator, what else could the regulated be trying to sell other than various flavors of corruption? That is why, in this case, the schmoozing can only come at the detriment of society as a whole, and it is a significant example of how rampant regulatory capture is in our society.

"I've been invited to boxes by vendors before"
If I were a stock holder of your company then I would take issue with that because part of the price your company is being charged by that vendor covers such activities (which either reduces dividends or intrinsic value of the company). It is simply a form of wealth transfer to the corrupt and a textbook example of the principle-agent dilemma (unless you are both in this example).

Blatant corruption (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380135)

This is blatant corruption. But it's the US, so nobody will give a shit, and the crony capitalism will continue until it ruins the entire country.

Re:Blatant corruption (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380177)

This is blatant corruption. But it's the US, so nobody will give a shit, and the crony capitalism will continue until it ruins the entire country.

I dislike crony capitalism and worse, the insider oligarchy running this country, but blatant corruption would be him accepting the gift, not declining it.

Re:Blatant corruption (0)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 3 months ago | (#47380243)

There you go again, using that crazy 'murican logic.

Re:Blatant corruption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380561)

There you go again, shitposting.

Re:Blatant corruption (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380445)

Accepting the gift would certainly be worse. However, regulators should not be on a first name basis with the people they regulate, and shouldn't be inviting each other to dinner, talking about having coffee, preferentially reading their friends' corporate merger justification tracts, and looking forward to the next time they can get together for $whatever. If I did that with, say, a property assessor, it'd be called bribery and I'd be thrown in jail.

Re:Blatant corruption (1)

jofny (540291) | about 3 months ago | (#47381859)

This is true up to a point. The rules are in place to keep those things from becoming so excessive that they turn into abuse. That said, easy and informal working relationships - within the bounds of law - also positively influence regulated environments by reducing misunderstandings, enhancing willingness to work through issues, assuring that the regulated and regulators start from much more similar conceptual pages, and improving the overall effectiveness and applicability of future regulations. It's an issue with mixed values; coming down on the overly formal and legalistic side of it can be just as damaging as the opposite to the ultimate objective of regulation - safer, fairer, more effective industries.

Renata Hesse please call the front desk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380183)

You are fired. You are now free to work for Comcast and have all the dinners and box seats they offer you. Which will be ZERO, you THICK IDIOT.

Public Choice Theory (5, Informative)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 3 months ago | (#47380197)

Regulatory Capture [wikipedia.org] results in regulators being captured.

Muhahaha! Suck shit and puke Amerikanski! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380245)

Because in Rome you puke a lot!

Troll (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380319)

While Slashdot's modus operandi is soak us in hyperbole and half truths while daring us to make fools of ourselves in this case there is not even a morsel of parity between headline and TFA and as such goes too far.

Headline might as well have read.. "Comcast executives appear to have sexual encounters with unicorns" while casually quoting a document which provides no evidence of the same.

Re:Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380679)

"Comcast executives appear to have sexual encounters with unicorns"

I absolutely knew it!

Re: Headline (2)

HairyNevus (992803) | about 3 months ago | (#47380341)

Uhm, no fucking shit. Obligatory [youtu.be]

Re: Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47384379)

Language, please. This isn't AIM.

Oh yeah, almost forgot... (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 3 months ago | (#47380355)

*Regulator hand Comcast a grimy, well used jar of Vaseline®* Them Tax Payers tend to clench up when you shove it in, so dab some of that on your rod and it's like riding a slip n' slide

Corruption... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380631)

You know it runs deep when you have legal bribing (lobbying) in your country.

Grease the wheels (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380653)

Different scale but as being a manager or someone senior in IT in the corporate world, you could get a free lunch, dinner, and box seats for something probably 5 days a week if you tried hard enough. One of my guys that left recently was doing this all the time. I didn't mind but eventually they would start calling me. I'd have to explain why our Windows engineer was wrong when he said we are interested in accelerators, some new router, or switching to some company for our corporate MPLS. Why he was meeting people for those things I'll never understand. I don't even answer my desk phone for an outside number unless I know the number. There is no such thing as a free lunch :)
I'd rather pay the $10-20 myself for my own average lunch and eat with a college or friend than someone else pay $50 for me at a "nice place" and have to sit there and act interested. I scored an ipod mini recently from a vendor we bought some software from. I gave it to one of my engineers.

Obama's Ethics Website (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380669)

"I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists â" and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president."

-- Barack Obama, Speech in Des Moines, IA
November 10, 2007

http://change.gov/agenda/ethic... [change.gov]

Yes, this is still up on the Internet, even today.

Obama's Ethics Website (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47383899)

Sounds to me like a clear and direct contractual breach to me - I say we sue the PotUS for said breach, for everything he has ever had or ever will have from now until he leaves this earth.

Make that illegal (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 3 months ago | (#47380687)

That should simply be illegal. It's good to have meetings with related businesses to express concerns etc., but it should be in a plain government meeting room with no perks: no food, no dancers, no music, etc.

Re:Make that illegal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47380911)

But how would Congress, legislators, mayors, councilmen, etc. be able to "do their jobs" (e.g., secure either their next election's funding or their next job outside of government)?

captcha: swindle

Re:Make that illegal (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 3 months ago | (#47381223)

You should at least allow donuts. Don't be such a hard ass.

Make that illegal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47383955)

The entire body of elected officials should be quartered in WWII style barracks, with military chow lines, with drill sergeants at every entrance and exit to make sure that they understand what kind of maggots they really are.

Every meeting should be publicly recorded, available 24x7 - there are NO secrets from the people of this country from which all of their "powers" are derived.

If they forget about this, then please refer to Thomas Jefferson.

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...
And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure."

Cozy realationship with regulators... (0)

hackus (159037) | about 3 months ago | (#47380839)

I am shocked. Now, leave me alone, I have to play with my new iShit gadget.

Irony... (1)

jythie (914043) | about 3 months ago | (#47380895)

In their training material that new employees go through, they make a big hairy deal out of not doing exactly these types of things.

America.... (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about 3 months ago | (#47381129)

...the worst government money can buy.

Ya' think? (4, Informative)

medusa-v2 (3669719) | about 3 months ago | (#47381233)

In my former hometown of Philly, there's a saying "you can vote for whatever you want, but you can't against Comcast." For all practical purposes they have a monopoly on wired Internet access in the city.

appear ? (1)

speedlaw (878924) | about 3 months ago | (#47381487)

appear ?

Comcast doesn't need to smooze (1)

C R Johnson (141) | about 3 months ago | (#47381885)

They have MSNBC to do that.

Stupid Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47382401)

Many Americans are just stupid. They put all their faith in government and many times they even rely on government to survive. Yet, we all see day in and day out countless agencies and government programs fail at what they were created to do. From the FTC, to the FDA and the FCC. Not to mention to corruption and lack of proper care for our vets at the VA, or the bias at the IRS a agency by design that should not be political. Yet, Americans continually seek more government help and creation of new programs like the Affordable Care act? When will we ever learn?

Re:Stupid Americans (1)

moeinvt (851793) | about 2 months ago | (#47383329)

Exactly.

I think the most glaring example is in the area of financial regulators. The U.S. federal government has the SEC, OTS, CFTC, FDIC, OCC and a financial crimes unit of the FBI.
Yet they FAILED to prevent the 2007 financial crisis and have FAILED to investigate and prosecute any of the big financial institutions for criminal activity? That undoubtedly demonstrates complicity or incompetence, but AFAIK, nobody in these agencies has been fired or reprimanded for their negligence/complicity.
Rather than investigating WTF is wrong with all of these agencies and ferreting out the corrupt and incompetent, government's solution is to create a NEW regulatory agency. Add the CFPB to the above list!

Yes, the Americans who believe big government serves to protect us little people from the big bad corporations are either stupid or extremely misguided. All the new laws and regulations are meaningless when the regulatory agencies refuse to enforce them. Why spend billions of dollars paying these people to NOT do their jobs? If we fired them all, we'd get the same outcome for lower cost.

Telecoms among top lobbying spenders(opensecrets) (1)

moeinvt (851793) | about 2 months ago | (#47383241)

The big telecoms are perennially in the top 20 companies/organizations in terms of annual lobbying expenditure. In 2012 for example:

https://www.opensecrets.org/lo... [opensecrets.org]

#10 AT&T $17,460,000
#15 Verizon $15,220,000
#16 Comcast $14,750,000

Imagine what they dump into PACs and campaign contributions? How many regulators are past or future execs in these companies?

More regulation is the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47383397)

No wait, the other thing.

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47384815)

Water is wet.

The corporations own all of federal regulatory agencies.

Every Federal employee knows the rules on gifts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47387579)

You don't have to be a lawyer to know this. Every Federal employee is taught in orientation on the 1st day: $20 limit on individual gifts, $50 annual total.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>