Obama’s Rent Seeking Transition Advisor

If you think President Obama wants to delay the switch to digital broadcasting to give the folks who haven’t procured the converter boxes extra time, think again.

As Tim Carney writes in the Examiner:

A telecommunications company has confirmed for this columnist that its vice president for policy—who is also an Obama donor and a former lobbyist—is advising Barack Obama’s transition team on telecom policy. Obama’s transition
team, which has failed to disclose this executive’s involvement, happens to have proposed a significant change in telecom policy that will profit that very company, called Clearwire.
By pushing to delay the long-scheduled transition of television broadcasting from analog signals to digital signals, president-elect Obama is directly aiding Sprint and its partner Clearwire while hurting Verizon.

Clearwire’s executive vice president for “Strategy, Policy and External Affairs” is R. Gerard Salemme. Writer Julian Sanchez reported Wednesday on the website Ars Technica that Salemme is serving on the Obama transition team as a telecom advisor. Clearwire told this columnist that Salemme is on leave to help craft Obama’s telecom policy…

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Salemme, a former telecom lobbyist who has given thousands to Obama,including $5,000 to Obama’s transition team, has helped Obama craft a policy that will benefit Salemme’s company.

Sanchez’ article and follow-up are well worth the read:

Salemme has also been a generous Obama supporter. Early in the primary season,
gave the maximum $2,300 to Obama for America, and then in August threw in another $10,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee that accepts large contributions and carves them up between the party and candidate. (An apparent typo in the OVF’s FEC filing credits this donation to “R. Gerard Salemine.” OpenSecrets shows the cash as split into $5,400 for the Democratic National Committee’s Services Corporation and two contributions of $2,300 to Barack Obama, which on face would seem to exceed Salemme’s cap for the primary and general combined.) Once the race to the White House was won, Salemme scrounged another $5,000 for the transition effort. As of this writing, Salemme is not mentioned anywhere on the Change.gov site

Ah yes, hope and change.

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