Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rep. Sires Forgets Whom He Really Works For

Every now and then Democrats in Washington forget whom they really work for.

Friday was one such day as several dozen Democratic representatives buckled to phone and cable lobbyists and signed on to a letter designed to sow doubt about Net Neutrality.

Sadly, One among them is new Jersey's own Albio Sires, "serving" the 13th District including Hoboken, Jersey City, North Bergen, Bayonne, parts of Newark and surrounding areas.

Too often, in complicated matters of communications policy, members will take industry lobbyists at their word and sign on to whatever is foisted upon them. The phone and cable lobby funnel so much cash into campaign coffers that it’s easier to wave off the wonkery and just go along.

But Sires should have thought twice before signing onto a letter (pdf) that defies the wishes of progressives, President Obama, other Democratic leaders, and the tens of thousands of people who helped put him into office.

The letter was orchestrated by the phone and cable lobby as a warning shot across the bow of new Democratic majority at the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC’s three Democrats are poised to fulfill Obama's pledge to make Net Neutrality a reality. It's an action that has received strong support from Democratic leadership across the board. If the FCC Dems succeed it would mark a massive win for the millions of people and many progressives who have fought so hard for this.

But deep-pocketed telco lobbyists have launched an all-out assault to derail the FCC. Phone and cable companies have hired more than 500 lobbyists, spent tens of millions of dollars, and unleashed sleazy Astroturf groups to mislead politicians, distort the facts, and resurrect long-debunked myths.

Sires has been on the receiving end of these industry handouts, and it's starting to show.

Another letter signer, Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, may have just realized his mistake. He is now in damage control on DailyKos where he wrote:
I strongly support Net Neutrality and have been working on a letter to circulate advocating a regulatory approach that keeps the internet public and free… I'll post my own letter on dailykos later this week, and encourage you to ask your reps to sign it.
This new letter from rep. Polis is a good start and Rep. Sires should sign onto it. But if Polis and Sires truly want to make amends, they should sign on with Rep. Waxman, Eshoo and Markey as co-sponsors of the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (HR 3458). He should also write a separate letter to Chairman Genachowski of the FCC pledging his support of strong Net Neutrality rules.

The fight for Net Neutrality is very real, and it's getting nasty. You can send a message to Washington by adding your name to the 2-million-person call to action.

And if you see your representatives' names at the bottom of that telco letter, you might want to give them a call and remind them who's really the boss.

Sires can be reached by dialing 202-225-7919. If you want to call his local offices in Bayonne, dial 201-823-2900.

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