Revolving Door: FCC Commissioner Votes For Comcast/NBC Merger And, Four Months Later, Given Position As Senior Vice President in Comcast-NBC

Critics are charging this week that Federal Communications Commissioner Meredith Baker has given this swamp-based city another glaring example of how to turn public service into personal gain. Just four months after voting to allow the merger between Comcast and NBC Universal, she has been given a high-paid job as senior vice president of governmental affairs by . . . you guessed it . . . Comcast-NBC.

The revolving door hire reminds many of the hiring of Billy Tauzin by the Pharmaceutical Industry after, as chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Tauzin pushed through landmark Medicare Act of 2003 loaded up with billions of dollars of windfalls for the industry. At least Tauzin waited ten months. The industry proceeded to hire a host of staffers and members who secured the legislation.

Baker, a Republican, joined the FCC in 2009 under President George W. Bush. In a statement, the company’s Washington office president, Kyle McSlarrow, said, “Meredith’s executive branch and business experience along with her exceptional relationships in Washington bring Comcast and NBCUniversal the perfect combination of skills.” By the way, McSlarrow is a Republican activist who served as the national chair of the Dan Quayle for presidential campaign and ran for Congress himself, unsuccessfully. “Those exceptional relationships in Washington” is precisely the problem being raised by this profitable shift to Comcast-NBC.

Source: Washington Post

34 thoughts on “Revolving Door: FCC Commissioner Votes For Comcast/NBC Merger And, Four Months Later, Given Position As Senior Vice President in Comcast-NBC

  1. Oh, but ain’t that America for you and me
    Ain’t that America somethin’ to see baby
    Ain’t that America home of the free, yeah
    Little pink payola for you and me
    Oh yeah for you and me, oh

    (With apologies to John Mellencamp)

  2. The revolving doors are everywhere!


    The S.E.C.’s Revolving Door: From Wall Street Lawyers to Wall Street Watchdogs
    By Matt Taibbi

    Got a quick note from a friend today, sending some happy news from the corporate non-enforcement arena. It seems that the white-shoe corporate defense firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale is expecting yet another regulatory baby!

    The SEC last week announced that Anne Small will serve as the SEC’s new deputy general counsel. Small worked in Wilmer Hale’s litigation department before snagging this post. She’ll be replacing Mark Cahn, who worked at – wait for it – Wilmer Hale for 20 years, until joining the SEC last March, when he stepped in to work for a fellow named Andrew Vollmer, who had served as the SEC’s Deputy General Counsel since 2006. Cahn will now be kicked upstairs into the General Counsel spot.

    But guess who his predecessor Vollmer worked for? That’s right, Wilmer Hale. So a Wilmer lawyer comes in to replace a Wilmer lawyer, who replaced a Wilmer lawyer. Hence the firm’s nickname – “SEC West.”

    Besides Cahn and Small, there are other ex-Wilmerites at the Commission. There’s Joseph Brenner, the chief counsel of the Enforcement Division, and Meredith Cross, who heads the Division of Corporate Finance. Both were Wilmer partners.

    Of course it’s not like the traffic doesn’t go in both directions. Last year the SEC’s head of trading and markets, Daniel Gallagher, left to become a Wilmer partner. And the SEC’s former Director of Enforcement William McLucas is now the head of Wilmer’s securities department. The firm hired the head of the SEC’s Los Angeles office, Randall Lee, in 2007. And so on and so on.

    Exactly how tough do you think all these ex-Wilmer lawyers will be on current Wilmer clients like Goldman, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, General Electric, Credit Suisse, and practically every other major financial services company? The shamelessness factor is growing by the minute.

  3. What happened to the window of wait….is this the new Golden Parachute…where you and I get trickled on….

  4. A virtuous and free people do allow a powerful central government to have a death grip on controlling their means of communication.

    This explains why Obama and the Democrats are so dedicated to that control.

  5. Tooties,

    Its just a change of guards….think Haliburton… Pharmacology…….think Bush….Cheney…. I am sure even Clinton et al got theirs….

  6. AY – Are you actually attempting to speak of logic, history and reality to Tootie? What a waste of time! I swear if this were a recipe exchange site your apple brown betty recipe would be proof of that the Democrats are evil for Tootie. If anyone posted a hummus recipe Tootie would be here to proclaim that as evidence that Obama is a secret mooslim bent on instituting scare-ea law.

    Derision and silence are all Tootie’s comments deserve, anything else is like trying to teach a pig to sing.

  7. Perhaps having Baker over at Comcast can make it easier for government to add more capability to interrupt cable programming with fear alerts and other state propaganda?

    This week the FCC announced that manufacturers will be required to install a dedicated homeland security chip in all future cell phones to allow government to display texts, interrupt calls or online activities in order to force the public to receive state messaging:

  8. Frank,

    “AY – Are you actually attempting to speak of logic, history and reality to Tootie?”

    It’s how AY gets his workouts–an exercise in futility.

  9. As the saying goes, “Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty… and the pig likes it.”

  10. Teaching Tootie and certain others around here logic and critical thinking would be as futile as the drunk trying to reach the second floor using the StairMaster.

  11. I was pissed off about the underlying story and planning to write a little mini-rant, but now you all have me laughing at singing pigs.

  12. You mean there aren’t waiting periods involved to avoid obvious conflict of interest? Or are they just porous?

  13. In my mind, the employment by an industry of a regulator of that industry within one year following the regulator’s departure from the regulating agency creates a rebuttable presumption of corruption.

  14. “Round and round and round we go, where we stop, nobody knows…”

    Mike A. wrote:

    “In my mind, the employment by an industry of a regulator of that industry within one year following the regulator’s departure from the regulating agency creates a rebuttable presumption of corruption.”

    I agree, but have to wonder if even a one year limitation is sufficient…

  15. “But it’s not technically bribery if we don’t pay you until you’re out of office. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it,” said Comcast.

  16. Elaine,
    Thanks for the Miss Piggy in the morning!
    It is amazing that this kind of revolving door hiring is allowed. At the very least this brings into question the alleged independence of the FCC. This is just robbing the taxpayers because she wasn’t representing the citizens, she was already bought and paid for by the United States of Comcast.

  17. “Baker, a Republican, joined the FCC in 2009 under President George W. Bush.”

    This says it all. What is confusing though is that when I worked for NYC, there was supposedly a two year ban on leaving City employ and working for a firm doing business with the City. I found out as a Director of Contracts though, that this was little enforced. I found myself in negotiations with an ex-Deputy Commissioner, who had worked for my Agency the year before and was now presenting a proposal for extra funding for the Non-Profit he now worked for. This was a proposal endorsed by Mayor Guiliani’s office, which insisted on a no-bid contract. I refused and luckily for me a scandal broke out two weeks later in a similar case, making this proposal moot.

    Nevertheless, there is such a law on the Books in NYC, I would have thought there would be one on a Federal Level. I guess not.

  18. Mike S., the prohibitions regard leaving government and becoming a lobbyist; 1 year for Representatives and their staff, 2 years or Senators and their staff. There are no prohibition on going to work for any industry or lobbying firm and doing other things until those time limits are up.

    We saw this during the vote for the Medicare Part D bill covering drugs. Aides literally quit their jobs the next day and went to work for pharmaceutical manufacturers and lobbying firms- counting paperclips and ‘consulting’ presumably. I think one elected official actually left before the end of his term.

    We have the best government money can buy:-)

    “Former Congressman Billy Tauzin, R-La., who steered the bill through the House, retired soon after and took a $2 million a year job as president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the main industry lobbying group. Medicare boss Thomas Scully, who threatened to fire Medicare Chief Actuary Richard Foster if he reported how much the bill would actually cost, was negotiating for a new job as a pharmaceutical lobbyist as the bill was working through Congress.[26][27] A total of 14 congressional aides quit their jobs to work for the drug and medical lobbies immediately after the bill’s passage.”

  19. Mike S. and lottakatz:

    By limiting the prohibition to lobbying, the rules leave a hole large enough to drive a bus through. If one is employed in a sufficiently powerful corporate position, it is obvious that the ability to solicit favors can be successfully utilized without the need to register as a lobbyist.

  20. Mike A, re loophole; absolutely right and I am confident that the way the law is framed is not an accident. It’s corruption plain and simple.

    BTW, I’m so glad to see you posting lately, I always enjoy reading your thoughts on a matter.

  21. ANON NURSE wrote ‘Republicans are winning the war, one corporation at a time…’. The reverse is true, too. Corporations are winning the war one Republican at a time.

  22. Corporations are winning the war one Republican at a time.
    -Randy Macon

    Yep. And when it’s over, we won’t know what hit us… Influential Republicans and corporations are at war in America, and they play by a different set of rules. The Constitution and rule of law are of little consequence.. Dems, as usual, are “playing nice” — generally unaware, it would seem, about the domestic war that’s in progress…

  23. Over Two Hundred SEC Officials Have Gone To Private Sector Since 2006


    WASHINGTON (Tim Reid) – At least 219 former officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission have left since 2006 to help clients with business before the agency, bringing fresh allegations of a “revolving door” that leaves the commission too cozy with the Wall Street firms it regulates.

    According to a report to be released on Friday, between 2006 and 2010 there were 219 former SEC employees who filed letters with the agency indicating their intent to represent a client with business before the commission.

    In all, those former officials advised firms on SEC business nearly 800 times, according to an advance copy of the report seen by Reuters.

    The study by the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight, which analyzed post-employment statements provided by the SEC after a Freedom of Information Act request, says the former officials joined a total of 131 firms to provide legal, lobbying, accounting and other advice to clients being investigated or regulated by the SEC.

    Republican Senator Charles Grassley, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, said of the report: “The SEC’s revolving door seems to be more active than ever.”

    Grassley said there should be public disclosure of where former financial regulators are working and what issues they are working on. “Transparency is a proven back-stop to enforce ethics rules,” he said.

  24. “Transparency is a proven back-stop to enforce ethics rules.” – Charles Grassley


    It’s been said that “democracies die behind closed doors.” I guess one could add that democracies die with revolving doors.

    Decades ago, as my father was preparing to retire from the military, he was approached by a Wisconsin corporation for a lucrative position, which included a lake home, numerous other perks, and a generous salary. Shortly before the deal was inked, he learned that he would be expected to provide classified information obtained while in the military. He sought other options, but what about the next guy in line…

    Of course, we desperately need transparency, but we also need to slow down the revolving doors, if not completely block at least some of them.

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