|April 22, 2013
In case you were wondering why so many Democrats switched sides during the most recent CISPA vote, the answer is exactly what you think it is: $$$. And lots of it. Last year's CISPA vote only managed to secure 40 Democrat supporters. This time around, the number leapt to 92.
[A] new coalition of special interests, which include America's two largest cellular service providers AT&T, Inc. and Verizon Wireless -- jointly owned by Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group Plc. -- as well as two of the nation's largest software firms Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp., came together to create a similar data grab bill (Microsoft has since renounced its support). Security firms like Symantec Corp. also backed the bill.
Pushing the bill through was $84M USD in funding from special interest backers.
$84 million is change-of-heart money, although one imagines those contributing checked and double-checked their "sponsored" representatives to make sure they were all on the same page. As DailyTech points out, nearly $86 million went into the SOPA push and most of that turned out to be wasted money.
Last Monday, two hundred IBM executives visited the White House to make a last minute push for CISPA. Whatever they said or did must have been very persuasive. By the end of the day, 36 new sponsors had signed on to the bill, up from a very lonely two previous to IBM's visit. Unsurprisingly, financial motivation was involved, according to numbers gathered by Maplight.
New co-sponsors have received 38 times as much money ($7,626,081) from interests supporting CISPA than from interests opposing ($200,362).
Members of the House in total have received 16 times as much money ($67,665,694) from interests supporting CISPA than from interests opposing ($4,164,596).
Now, it's up to Senate to come up with some sort of cyber-security bill that has a chance to get passed and dodge a Presidential veto. Fortunately, there's no clear favorite at the moment (although Lieberman's bill seems to have the President's blessing) and with the limited number of voters, the Senate is much more prone to be gridlocked by partisan politics. Of course, a daylong visit by a few lobbyists could win over just enough hearts and minds to be dangerous. In the meantime, it would probably do these senators a world of good to hear from their constituents, if only to remind them that there are plenty of actual people out there who have to live with the consequences of bad legislation.