Two former high level Washington staffers who helped write SOPA and Protect IP have joined major lobbying firms that… are helping to get the law they just wrote passed. Now their work addresses are "K Street," where all the lobbyists in Washington call home. Halataei recently joined the National Music Publishers’ Association, and Pastarnack is joining the Motion Pictures Association of America. These two lobbying groups have been pressing Congress to pass the proposals.
This is the modus operandi of the lobbying industry, which uses the inside tracks and connections that former staffers have to try and tip the scales in their favor on issues important to them.
"This is one of those mega-fights where there is a lot of money at stake and whenever it gets to that, it’s kind of ‘Katy bar the door’ as far as what they’ll pay for talent," said McCormick Group headhunter Ivan Adler. "This fits into the perfect scenario of why senior-level people from well-placed committees get hired, and it’s because they really know the three p’s: people, policy and process. And that makes them very valuable in the Washington marketplace."
NMPA President David Israelite brushed aside questions on Halataei being hired because of the legislative battle over anti-piracy legislation.
"It has nothing to do with pending legislation,” Israelite told Politico. Allison "knows our issues, has really good relationships across the aisle and is a very smart lawyer."
Israelite further spun the hire by saying that it would be "nothing but hurtful to our effort."
MPAA spokesman Howard Gantman declined to comment on the Politico story. On the plus side, the former staffers face one-year lobbying bans which disallow them from lobbying the respective committees where they previously worked. Of course that doesn't keep them from providing inside information on the process, lawmakers' frames of mind on issues, and other important information.
While departures like these are normal in Washington and completely legal, congressional watchdogs such as Craig Holman of Public Citizen doesn't think it’s cool or even ethical.
"This is very much a troubling aspect of the influence-peddling industry and unfortunately, it is the way business is done," Holman said. "This is the revolving-door abuse in which those who have a great deal of money can afford to hire senior staffers or even former members of Congress to do their bidding for them in the private sector as lobbyists."