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Tech Companies and Politicians: Who Pays Who? 112

fiorenza writes "An investigation into political contributions by technology companies shows that Republicans are the top beneficiaries of such donations, but the Dems aren't too far behind. Perhaps most interesting, it appears that tech companies know that to really get what they want, they need to lobby directly. From the article: 'It's not just Microsoft that is spending these massive amounts. The computer/Internet industry as a whole dropped $84 million on lobbying in 2005 — more even than the TV/movies/music groups. Although the firms at the end of the Internet 'pipes' are spending money, it's dwarfed by the expenditures of those firms that own the 'pipes' themselves.'"
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Tech Companies and Politicians: Who Pays Who?

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  • by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:28PM (#16802240) Journal
    perhaps they spend more money convincing Republican's because they have more trouble understanding the issues, tubes and all.
    • by MacDork ( 560499 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:30PM (#16802256) Journal
      Perhaps casual acceptance of blatant bribery won't be so commonplace in the US someday.
      • by vought ( 160908 )
        Perhaps casual acceptance of blatant bribery won't be so commonplace in the US someday.

        Given the state of industry kickback these days, [] it's doubtful.

      • by labnet ( 457441 )
        Australian parties rely a lot less on private giving. If you get more than 4% of the primary vote, you are elegible for about $1.34 per vote in public funding for your party.
        Even Al Gore supports the public funding of parties rather than 'bribes' from corporates.
      • You are absolutely right. (this all is opinion :p)
        Lobying directly to politicians is a great evil in the USA today. It eats directly into Amerika as democracy. Here in the Netherlands politicians in the parlement are paid only for their seat. As they should. (ok, i believe) And conflict of interest is even taken seriously on lower levels. (gemeentelijk, in your varient county-level?)
        Lobying is bound to exist, so it should be as transparent as possible, there should be a interest group department or someth
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      perhaps they spent more money convincing Republicans because the Republicans had majorities.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sonsonete ( 473442 )
      Or perhaps they spent slightly more on Republicans because there were a few more Republicans in Congress. We'll have to see if anything changes over the next two years, now that we'll have a few more Democrats.
    • Comment removed based on user account deletion
    • If forced to choose between the two, I would identify myself as a republican, and I'm currently writing a paper on the topic of network neutrality (which I'm all in favor for). In such paper, I will be quoting several people in our government who have made downright idiotic statements about the Internet. These quotes will include "The Internet is ... a series of tubes" (Ted Stevens, R-AK), "I've used the Internets" (George Bush, R-TX), and "I Invented the Internet" (Al Gore D-DC). I'm usually the person tha
  • by Salvance ( 1014001 ) * on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:29PM (#16802244) Homepage Journal
    Ah, the net neutrality battle all over again. It's no surprise that the infrastructure and telecom firms are spending the most money. These are the firms that have the most to lose if Congress begins to support net neutrality and increased competition. Luckily the rise of the internet, message boards (like slashdot), and social networking has allowed Americans to increase their knowledge of the issues addressed by Congress on a daily basis, which allows us to raise our voices and dissent much earlier ... often before poor decisions are made.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by rkcallaghan ( 858110 )
      Salvance wrote:
      Luckily the rise of the internet, message boards (like slashdot), and social networking has allowed Americans to increase their knowledge of the issues addressed by Congress on a daily basis, which allows us to raise our voices and dissent much earlier ... often before poor decisions are made.

      ROFL ... You dream, citizen.

      • by Salvance ( 1014001 ) * on Saturday November 11, 2006 @12:01AM (#16802444) Homepage Journal
        OK, you caught me! I am eternally optimistic that technology has and will continue to provide Americans with a greater political voice and presence, along with better political accountability.

        Look at the influence of the internet and viral/social media on Howard Dean's campaign (before he made a fool of himself), on the net neutrality debate (where it's now basically dead after popular backlash driven by bloggers and internet petitions), and on corruption (where perverts like Mark Foley would never have been caught had they been operating in a less tech saturated world).

        We can poo poo the honesty and integrity of our politicians, but it's difficult to discount the increased importance that the tech savvy, non-elite, individual (or group) now has.
        • by gnool ( 1005253 )
          I completely agree with you. I think the internet is a wonderful thing for many reasons, with one of them being it's the freest medium humanity has invented so far. Governments and the rich can control the radio, TV and newspapers, but they can't control the entire internet (unless you're North Korea and don't allow anyone access to the internet). Just about anyone can get on the internet for free or cheap (public libraries, internet cafes, your parents paying for broadband ;-)), say whatever they want for
        • by rkcallaghan ( 858110 ) on Saturday November 11, 2006 @12:50AM (#16802714)
          Howard Dean's campaign still failed because as you say he "made a fool of himself". The internet didn't save Howard Dean -- even though the informed internet voter you hope for knew he was yelling over a crowd, unaware of the noise cancelling feature in use on his microphone. No, the only news that really got out was how "crazy" he obviously was.

          Mark Foley molested underage children and largely got away with it. This man should be in jail, and so should anyone protecting him. I'm normally never a fan of "think of the children" type responses; and I've seen far too many cases involving offended redneck parents and high school seniors (he's 19, she's 17) to want to brand anyone a child molester without some good evidence of an actual crime. The internet and it being so easy to find out available information hasn't even drummed up a serious investigation.

          Instead what I've seen is people like Bev Harris getting ignored, despite years of intense work on something that should be of paramount importance. Other than the circular answer of "because she's right" -- why isn't the internet helping Black Box Voting get heard? Her site is well built and is a legitimate charity; but you'd be hard pressed to find a link to her site anywhere except liberal choir-preaching grounds.

          I don't really know of any case where the 'tech savvy non elite' have had an impact.

          • As you also are "the internet" and didn't post the link, you should answer your own question. I never heard about her, your post made me curious, but there's no link. Not helping!
          • by caldodge ( 1152 )
            >Mark Foley molested underage children and largely got away with it.

            No, he didn't. He sent sexually suggestive email and IM to teenage boys (ages 16+, IIRC).

            FWIW, if he had limited himself to ACTUALLY having sex with them in DC, no law would have been broken.
          • You can try explaining this to the Republican House and Senate losers in Tuesday's election, but they're likely to respond by cramming a tinfoil hat [] on your head, the political effort that got rid of them was largely organized online. Don't try explaining this to Karl Rove, he's likely to try to rip your head off.

            As for Bev Harris, I'll just say that there were tens of thousands of lawyers organized to take legal action when attempts at cheating were discovered, connected both online and via toll-free num
    • by josecanuc ( 91 ) *

      These are the firms that have the most to lose if Congress begins to support net neutrality and increased competition.

      Don't confuse losing money/profit with failing to gain money/profit. No person or company is entitled to any profit whatsoever. Though not necessarily legislated, net neutrality is the status quo. To legislate it would lose no one any money or profit. It would, however, eliminate one vector of increased profit for the telecom groups.

    • This ISNT about net neutrality. It is about tech compagnies and lobying. (yes, bribrary) I can definitely see how net neutrality is definitely something that can lead from discussion of this, but "net neutrality again" attitude will distract for some other important topic to be noticed about this.
      I more open mind about the topic may shed new light on something else. sound much more productive then net neut again, move along please.
  • perhaps... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Odiumjunkie ( 926074 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:30PM (#16802254) Journal
    "Who pays whom"?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by davebarnes ( 158106 )
      Exactly my first thought.
      Is is so difficult to write proper English (American)? ,dave
      • Its not difficult. Folks just don't want to use "whom" because it sounds.......well........ you know...... gay.
    • absolutely. "who pays who ?" is grammatically inexcusable unless it's a reference to "who made who ?" [sic], which doesn't really seem to be implied by the summary, so, uh, shame on you, slashdot!
    • by ndogg ( 158021 )
      Well, no one is paying for grammar, that's for sure.
    • Anything that is unproductive ulimately ends up here: []
      • Trying to drum up fear based on a meaningless number (total outstanding public debt) shows a complete lack of understanding of our current monetary system. The operator of that website should be ashamed if himself.
    • On a similar note:

      "Whom do you love?" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
      • I'm not sure, but I don't think you're supposed to use whom there.

        . o o O ( whom is your daddy )

        • It's "Who is your daddy", and "whom do you love." If the "who/whom" is the subject of a verb, it needs to be a "who." If it is the object, it needs to be a "whom."

          It's easy to remember by trying to come up with a male-gendered answer to the question. If you use "he" in the answer, you should have used "who" in the question. "Him" matches up with "whom."

          In your example: "Who is your daddy?" "He is your daddy." ("Who" is the subject of the verb "to be")

          "Whom do you love?" "I love him." ("Whom" is the object o
          • by dsanfte ( 443781 )
            To make it clearer...

            The verb "to be" is 'intransitive' and does not take an object. It relates subjects to each other. Each 'end' of the verb needs to be in the subjective case.

            Who is who?

            However, the verb "to love" is transitive. It takes an object. Thus:

            Whom do you love?

            Learning some Latin will help you realize these differences, and how easy it is to live in a world of two cases (objective, subjective) rather than six or seven.
          • Thanks for explaining!
  • 2:1 Is Far Behind (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:34PM (#16802274) Homepage Journal
    Republicans are the top beneficiaries of such donations, but the Dems aren't too far behind.
    just over $4 million to federal candidates in the 2006 election cycle. The money wasn't doled out evenly, though; Republican candidates pulled in 67 percent of it.

    Democrats were favored to win the House in that cycle, and most likely to take the Senate, too - reversal of complete control of the government, which in fact did happen. Even so, Republicans still pulled in much more, two to one. That ration is most certainly "far behind".

    Democrats need to spend more of their bribes on better PR, even if just so Slashdot doesn't repeat the same "Democrats are just as bad" BS as does the corporate mass media whenever Republicans are much worse.
    • Democrats need to spend more of their bribes on better PR, even if just so Slashdot doesn't repeat the same "Democrats are just as bad" BS as does the corporate mass media whenever Republicans are much worse.
      Next you will be telling me that the democrats have never stolen an election, lied under oath, or caused the economy to crash.

      They are all crooks - the only thing you can do is vote against the guy in office today.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by evil agent ( 918566 )
        Next you will be telling me that the democrats have never stolen an election, lied under oath, or caused the economy to crash.

        You didn't know that Democrats are good and Republicans are evil? You must be new here.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Yes, the Republicans are truely evil, I heard it a couple of time here... wait no I meant a couple of thousand times.

          Vote Libertarian, the only party that is for our civil liberties and responsible government. Democrats are not for liberties, they tote that line but before Bush who made the most extensive use of the NSA wiretapping program (it was around for the past couple of decades)? You guessed it, Clinton. They want to take guns away, ban video games, ban smoking, ban food aditivies, and ban anything t
          • by Firehed ( 942385 )
            Democrats and Republicans have a mutual goal of controlling the citizens. The Libertarians tend to be more in favor of controlling the government, if not somewhat ironically (gain power so you can take it away from yourself).

            Or that's my take on it.
            • And that's exactly why Libertarians will always be a fringe group. Those in power seek to stay in power. Elect a Libertarian majority and within a few years they'll be just like the Democrats and the Republicans. It's a natural fact of our voting system and political representation mechanisms. Remember when Republicans favored small governments, responsible spending, and no regulation of personal rights?

              The current Republican party started out on what is today a Libertarian platform. Sooner or later
          • by josecanuc ( 91 ) *
            I'm not usually the grammar nazi, but the phrase is "toe the line". Most people mistakenly write it as "tow the line", but "tote the line" is an uncommon way to screw this up.
            • Thanks for correcting my grammar, I am always happy to learn. I never was very good at grammar, I did a fair amount of school in Kentucky where grammar is not exactly their strong suit. I have been working on it every since I left that state but still mess things up from time to time.
        • Back in the 90's, this site was most definitely intellectual, liberal and very oriented towards Dems. As the average joe has shown up here, the site has a large Republican bent. As it is, almost all of my enemies are major W. supporters who would like to us turned into a theocracy, but wants to nuke Iran for being a theocracy. Go figure.
          • I've been here since the 90s, and while I'm definitely of a left temperament, what you say in unfair. There were libertarians and conservatives of various sorts here from very early on, and some of them very well-spoken, informed and thoughtful.

            The vulgarization of online discourse crosses ideological lines. From "unregulated markets are more efficient and property rights are the basis of all rights," or "an unregulated private sector creates gaps of wealth and environmental crises, and capital will always
            • by mrlpz ( 605212 )
              You know what ? Well said. I salute your low user number. Considering mine is still under the first million, I have to agree with you. There has always been healthy debate, and while it certainly has gotten down to the ridiculously sublime stench level at times. I think that there's generally more good than dearth slung around.

              Except when the issue is outsourcing. And please don't get me started on that, as I have personal accounts I could cite.
            • I was here in the 90's. I did not get a login and elected to remain anonymous until a couple of years ago. There were Libertarians and conservatives back then. I am a long time libertarians from ~94. But /. most definitely had a liberal bent. To deny it, is it re-write history. In no way did I knock the individuals of yesteryear. What has happened over the years is exactly what I described AS well as you do in your 2nd paragraph. That is, the average Joe came in. In doing so, the liberal bent is gone, and t
        • OK, "evil agent", you've admitted your Republicans are evil, with a 9E6 user#. Does your Republican self-referentiality ever bottom out?
      • by metlin ( 258108 )
        Well said.

        People talk as if the Dems were all angelic. I'm waiting for the day when the Dems come into power and videogames are banned because they're too dangerous. Or our tax money goes towards paying social security for bums on the street.
        • No, no one said the Democrats were all angelic, except for the Republicans (and their drag "Libertarians") cooking up that excluded middle falacy in strawman clothing.

          If you want to call your worthless grandma a "bum on the street" that's your business. But you're pretty weird to wait for Democrats to ban the videogames that dress up your fantasyworld. Because Republicans have been busy doing that, while you bow and scrape to cover for them.
          • by metlin ( 258108 )
            That's the thing though. My point is that both sides of the fence aren't exactly filled with folks that have our best interests in mind.

            It's like choosing between the lesser of two evils. Libertarians, at the very least, have our freedoms before everything else.

            Should have moved to NH.
            • The point of this thread is that there is a big difference between the two parties. No one is saying that Democrats are "perfect", or even "good". But the story summary rehashed the same media line that "there's no difference", when in fact a 2:1 difference is a very big difference.

              There are multiple problems with American politics. The entire system where parties collect and share bribes and votes within their membership is a fundamentally broken machine. But the two different parties run that machine very
          • Lets see - who was it that wanted to ban "dirty words" in albums - except he got beat down by the intellectually superior Frank Zappa and Dee Schnider. Oh yeah - that was the Honerable Al Gore of the "I can't even win my own state - but by god, I came close enough in Florida to throw the country in a tizzy for 6 years" fame.

            Who wants to ban violent video games today - can I hear someone speak up for the Honerable Hillary Clinton of the "It was a vast right wing conspiracy that put that stain on her dress"

            • Well, I can tell from your post that you've been eating the plentiful Republican propaganda for quite a while. Kerry's Yale grades weren't as low as Bush's, though I fail to see how that's relevant in any way. Not just generally irrelevant, but when has Kerry banned "dirty words"?

              You got Gore wrong, too. Not just the fact that it was his wife who Zappa fought in the 1980s (I learned all about it from standing in Zappa audiences). But you reduce Bush's 2000 election theft to Gore "throwing the country in a t
      • I just cited a specific example of that BS that's staring you right in the face.

        And even though I never said any of those things you're making up as strawmen, let's see some specific examples from you. Or is just lying about "moral equivalence" the thing to do when you're a Republican forced to pretend you're a "Libertarian", once Republican power finally wears out its welcome?
    • by OakLEE ( 91103 )

      Even so, Republicans still pulled in much more, two to one. That ration is most certainly "far behind".

      A couple of things. First, power in the Congress is wielded by seniority. The longer you've served, the more influence (committee assignments, chairmanships) you wield. Thus anyone who wants to wield power will done to those in position to have it. Thus, why would any interest give money to candidates, who if they defeat the incumbent would still be two or three terms away from having any power? Inste

      • Because power is wielded by the committees, more than by the individual congressmembers, or even the whole chamber. And nothing in that article, or my post, mentioned donating money to Democrat challengers, rather to Democrat incumbents. Who have been favored for the entire election cycle to wield that committee power as part of the majority.

        "Not supposed" to win? What, by the public predictions [] that have "supposed" a Democratic House and usually a Democratic Senate for months? By the even more accurate "go
        • by OakLEE ( 91103 )

          "Not supposed" to win?

          You are confusing not supposed to win a majority, which Democrats were supposed to do with which representatives were supposed to win. If you go look at the predictions, you will see that there many Democrats who won in districts where they were not expected to win.

          Your version isn't how the Congress works.

          Maybe I got my high school civics class wrong, but that still doesn't change the fundamental assertions I made which are (1) money follows power, and (2) newly elected Democrats wil

          • You didn't get Civics wrong, you got logic wrong. You are inventing a hidden premise, that the contributions we're talking about went (or would go) to newly elected Democrats, rather than incumbents. The story, and my posts, doesn't say what you are saying about the incomers. The new (predicted) Democratic majority has the power in its ranking members controlling the committees, so they would have gotten the bribes. That they didn't (nearly as much) shows that Republicans are much more bribeable, at least 2
    • in that cycle

      It's cool to use terminology, isn't it.
      • BZZZT!

        You were supposed to meaninglessly criticize me for typo'ing "ration" instead of "ration". Better luck next time around.
  • Good timing for this.. I actually just saw this on The Hour [] (last night's full show []), but boingboing also covered it: Dell gets presidential product placement? []. There's a youtube link there.
    • by jdgeorge ( 18767 )
      Dell gets presidential product placement?

      There are issues about which I would suggest President Bush was not doing the right thing. This, however, is not one of them. He is plugging a major American employer that sells a product (television) in a market dominated by non-US companies. Sony, Toshiba, Samsung.

      Look what you made me do. In a single paragraph I attempted to defend both George W. Bush and Dell. Now, that just didn't feel right; I'm going to go eat a bar of soap. A small bar of soap. Well, maybe ju
    • First of all, I'm not convinced he actually said "Dell," at least not intentionally.

      Let's face it, the man can hardly string words together in a sentence, at least when he's delivering pre-written speeches. (He's a lot better when he's speaking off-the-cuff in casual settings, but every time he has to give a major speech, I can't help but imagine some poor staffer who wrote the thing, sitting somewhere in a corner and crying as their work is butchered.) I don't think it's inconceivable at all that he basica
  • The computer/Internet industry as a whole dropped $84 million on lobbying in 2005 -- more even than the TV/movies/music groups.

    So, what you're telling me is that politicians collect money from the most wildly successful companies out there? Allow me to propose an alternate subject line: Water is wet, Microsoft is evil, politicians collect bribes via lobbyists.

    Come on slashdot, where's the news in this?
  • Pipes? I thought they were tubes.
  • In Soviet Union KGB agent lobbies blackmailed US representative for more imports of potassium.
    In capitalist West, MS lobbies to protect Linux code written by you!
  • that tech was supporting republicans because they were in power. But the dems are the ones that have been their friends.
  • This entire article can be thrown out the window. It ignores the Apple and Google political spending, which would be more than enough to tip the total toward the Democrats. It would be great if they could cite their sources properly - I've never felt like anything on Ars was reliable, much less balanced.
    • by dch24 ( 904899 )
      You have a valid point about Apple and Google's political spending.

      But you are unfair to Ars. They are a tech journal. I don't hear you complaining about how reliable or balanced slashdot is. Ars gets technical details right. For political information, I take anything with a big dose of salt.

      Still, Ars, if you're reading this forum, you could've done better.
    • by dch24 ( 904899 )
      Sorry to post twice, but after 30 seconds with google, I found this article []:

      John Authers reports for The Financial Times...

      "Over the five years to June this year, the blue [Democrat] index gained 139 per cent, compared with 34 per cent for the S&P500, which in turn beat the red [Republican] index. Even excluding recent stars Google and Apple, the blues are easily ahead,"

  • Although the firms at the end of the Internet 'pipes' are spending money, it's dwarfed by the expenditures of those firms that own the 'pipes' themselves.


    This has been another episode of Short Answers to Slashdot Articles.
  • Pretty much all industries contribute heavily to both sides nowdays. If you look back, large industry used to be heavily a Republican donor, but after our great "finance reform", they've tended to be pretty even handend (or, at least 60/40 or so). Hedging the bet is the smart move in an environment where the balance of power swings wildly.

    Unfortunately, until we realize that Corporations aren't people, and they shouldn't have political rights, we're going to be stuck with the current system.


    • donors are labor unions, and unlike corporations, donate in an almost purely partisan manner (greater than 90% to Democrats)?

      Fortunately, money has much less of an effect on politics than most people think. First, studies have shown that spending has little impact on who wins (double your spending, capture about one more percent of the vote). Second, it is human nature to over-estimate everyone else's bias, usually by a wide margin, while underestimating one's own. This has been
    • by Torbin ( 1008619 )
      That pretty much sums it up. 4 sides (although sometimes the truth doesn't avail itself so readily). TS
  • The tech-inc lobbyists have an on-going and sophisticated effort to convince legistlators and citizens that there is an ongoing tech skills shortage; including during the great IT job meltdown of the early 2000's. This is so that they can bring in more H-1B's and offshore up the wazoo. We are in the cross-hairs.
  • Why do we see so many laws that seem to favor the media companies over the tech companies?
    • Because 5 media corporations control 95% of the American media, and therefore 95% of how a candidate will be seen on TV, radio, and print. Money is useless if you can't spend it to get your message out, therefore candidates are wary of offending their media masters.

      By 2008 or 2010, the Internet will be taking that over completely; We're even seeing signs of it now, a la the "Macaca" remark that went to Youtube. Internet radio is already widely available. News websites with throughputs > 10^7 visitors
  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Saturday November 11, 2006 @12:53AM (#16802742)
    1: Every politician's number 1 goal is getting reelected
    2: The US political system will remain corrupt as long as the politicians are permitted to take these bribes.
    3: The people in power do not want the system fixed because it would reduce their chances at reelection.
    4: The system can only be fixed by the people who are in power, since they make the laws.

    Campaign contributions should be limited to the 12 months before a primary and only from registered voters from a candidate's district.
    • We needs clean elections, it has worked in Maine and Arizona. The way it works is candidates must collect a set number of "$5 qualifying contributions" from registered voters of any party in the district in which the candidate is seeking office. The donor must sign an affidavit containing the donor's name, address, and date of contribution. The candidate can not collect any other funds but candidates are given a set amount to run their campaign. If they run against a well funded competitor that does not par
  • An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought. -- U.S. Senator Simon Cameron (1862) []
  • Does anybody know or willing to tell? Without a Grand Jury investegation we may never know the answer. I personally cannot think of a legit or legal reason why they would.
  • that some Republicans know of is of the "tubesteak" variety.

    That's probably why Mark Foley avoided contributions from companies like Verizon in favor of legal firms, healthcare concerns, oh and friends of the RIAA.

    I make my red-state a pink one!
  • "more even than the TV/movies/music groups"

    Why is Hollywood still considered a high-mark standard when it comes to money when everyone knows that everything is financially bigger than Hollywood? Electronic gaming, the NFL and porn come to mind as common examples.

    Speaking of tired models of comparison, if $84 million were in $1 bills, how many football fields would that cover?
  • Republicans are the top beneficiaries of such donations, but the Dems aren't too far behind

    Actually, the article says Republicans get 67%. If you get 2/3 of the pie and I only get a 1/3, I'd say momma loves you best.
  • It's going to flip (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Salo2112 ( 628590 ) on Saturday November 11, 2006 @11:41AM (#16805516)
    Now that the Democrats are in control of the House and Senate, they will be getting the lion's share of the bribes...oops, PAC money. For those of you too young to remember, the Democrats ran the show for 40 years and were at least as decadent as the Republicans have become, and back in those days, they used to get all of the bribe money.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern