It kind of restores your faith in America and the spirit of innovation that someone could come up a new twist on government corruption after all these years, but here you go. You know how former Capitol Hill staffers get big bucks for becoming lobbyists and wooing their former employers? Well, as Lee Fang at The Nation exposes in an amazing work of journalism, that scam has now been reverse-engineered. In this pay-it-forward scam, lobbyists get a gigantic bonus before they take a pay cut and become a congressional staffer, where presumably they will do the bidding of the bonus giver. Clever, huh?
Now when I saw this, the first thing that came to mind was that this sounds like something that a certain Philadelphia company that starts with "Com" and ends with "cast" would do.
In 2008, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, hired one of Comcast's chief lobbyists, David Krone. In 2010, he named him chief of staff. In an arrangement The Wall Street Journal described as "unusual," Comcast paid Krone over $2.9 million in severance and salary, in addition to $1.2 million for the purchase of his Philadelphia condo, which Comcast later sold at a loss.
Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, a watchdog organization for the telecom industry, says he's very familiar with regulators and lawmakers moving to cash out and take jobs in the private sector, so it doesn't surprise him that "it's going the other way, too." "What does surprise me is that there is no shame in Washington anymore and people don't think this is a conflict," said Aaron.
See, and you thought all that money in your monthly cable bill was being wasted! Still, I think the Wall Street Journal didn't quite get this right when they called the arrangement "unusal." This strikes me as very "usual," a new production of an old story, a saga called crony capitalism, or in this case, "Krone-y capitalism." Maybe we can get those guys to do a viral video, Stop Krone 2012.