The recent announcement that longtime video game industry critics Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) were supporting an ad campaign to promote awareness of the ESRB rating system was viewed as a surprising coup for the game biz.
However, an article in this morning’s Hartford Courant raises questions about campaign donations Lieberman received from donors with ties to the video game industry. The four-term senator won a return to the Senate in November as an independent following a pitched election battle with anti-war challenger Ned Lamont.
Citing data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the Courant’s Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief, David Lightman, reports that Lieberman’s campaign received $73,000 in game-related donations, including funds from Linda McMahon, CEO of WWE Entertainment, a Stamford, CT-based corporation. Numerous teen-rated professional wrestling games bearing the WWE license have been published in recent years.
Said Massie Ritsch of the Center for Responsive Politics:
If you’re going to portray yourself as a champion against sex and violence on TV and in video games, it certainly doesn’t look like you’re completely serious if one of your big contributors makes its money from sex and violence.
According to the Courant report, Lieberman has a history of defending donations from the entertainment sector. The newspaper account says that in 2000, when Lieberman was unsuccessfully running for vice president on the Al Gore ticket, he attacked the industry at a congressional hearing but praised it at a high-priced fundraising event a short time later.
Other 2006 campaign contributors included Xbox 360 manufacturer Microsoft. Of the campaign contributions, Lieberman said:
(The money) obviously doesn’t affect my behavior, and the system allows for anyone who wants to see what I get to view all the donations.