Make it harder to cross the street

It turns out some of the key FCC people working to determine the future of net neutrality used to work at Comcast. The same path is also traveled in reverse quite frequently.

But overall, the FCC is one of many agencies that have fallen victim to regulatory capture. Beyond campaign contributions and other more visible aspects of the influence trade in Washington, moneyed special interest groups control the regulatory process by placing their representatives into public office, while dangling lucrative salaries to those in office who are considering retirement. The incentives, with pay often rising to seven and eight figure salaries on K Street, are enough to give large corporations effective control over the rule-making process.


The revolving door, however, provides a clear and semi-legal way for businesses to directly give unlimited cash and gifts to officials who act in their favor. One of the most famous examples of this dynamic is the case of Meredith Attwell Baker, an FCC Commissioner who left her job right after voting in favor of the Comcast merger with NBC. Her next career move? She became a high-level lobbyist for Comcast, the company she had just blessed. Earlier this week, she announced her next gig, as president of CTIA, the primary wireless industry trade group. She’ll have her work cut out for her in lobbying her former colleagues. CTIA has already warned the FCC from taking up any new net neutrality regulations.

In a democracy, if you don't want the money of corporations completely taking over policy-making, you can't allow people leaving office to immediately cross the street to a corner office on K-Street with a huge salary, and you also shouldn't allow those public officials to go work for a company in an industry they were regulating before. It's much too simple a way to essentially offer a deferred bribe.