‘Not Surprising’ But ‘So Shameful’: Ousted by Ocasio-Cortez, Joe Crowley Heads to K Street Lobbying Firm
Toppled in 2018 primary by progressive challenger, the ex-lawmaker will lobby for a firm whose clients include Amazon, Royal Dutch Shell, UnitedHealth, and the Saudi monarchy
By: Jessica Corbett
After losing a primary race against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in what’s been called last year’s biggest political upset, former Congressman Joe Crowley is headed to one of K Street’s largest law and lobbying firms—surprising no one, but garnering a fresh wave of criticism nonetheless.
Responding to the news on Twitter, Former New York attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout declared: “No, it is not surprising. But it is so shameful. Joe Crowley is selling twenty years of the goodwill of his constituents to the wealthy clients of Squire Patton Boggs.”
I disagreed with former Republican Congressman Chris Gibson on 1000 things, but at least he had the decency to teach after leaving office. You CAN choose to teach, to be involved in public service after leaving office. K street Lobbying is not destiny, it is a shameful choice.
— Zephyr Teachout (@ZephyrTeachout) February 19, 2019
Following months of speculation and reporting that he was being courted by variouslobbying groups, news broke Tuesday that Crowley—alongside former Republican Congressman Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania—was hired by Squire Patton Boggs. Crowley told Politico in a statement,”We were honored to hear from many of the great firms in town since leaving Congress, and chose what we think is the very best place to continue our careers.”
When Ocasio-Cortez, then a 28-year-old organizer, toppled the 10-term incumbent last year, she had said in her victory speech, “The message that we sent the world tonight is that it is not okay to put donors before your community.” Crowley’s move to K Street revived critiques of his priorities that tanked his bid to hold on to his U.S. House seat. As one New Yorker put it, “There is a reason that @AOC won my district.”
Squire Patton Boggs counts among its clients several major corporations and governments across the globe. As Politico noted, “The firm’s dozens of lobbying clients include Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and UnitedHealth, according to disclosure filings, as well as the governments of Cameroon, China, Croatia, Qatar, and South Korea, and the Palestinian Authority.”
The Washington Post‘s Jeff Stein, citing the Center for Responsive Politics, added Amazon, Samsung, and Royal Dutch Shell to that list. Predicting Crowley’s next moves based on the interests his new employer represents, Teachout tweeted, “So will Crowley end up lobbying against the Green New Deal and for Amazon?”
So will Crowley end up lobbying against the Green New Deal and for Amazon? https://t.co/jnmQ0BTGsL
— Zephyr Teachout (@ZephyrTeachout) February 19, 2019
Avi Asher-Schapiro of the Committee to Protect Journalists highlighted the firm’s work for Saud al-Qahtani, an aide to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman—the man who is widely believed to have ordered the assassination of Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.
Here's the 2016 contract, for those interested: https://t.co/pdPBDVeETt
— Avi Asher-Schapiro (@AASchapiro) February 19, 2019
Other critics noted that although Crowley was voted out of Congress, he remains the head of the Queens County Democrats, and called for him to be kicked out of that post.
“Not only should Joe Crowley be removed as head of the Queens County Democratic party, but we should also institute a rule mandating that no registered lobbyist can hold a position in the party leadership,” said Prameet Kumar, a member of the Queens Community Board 6 and Queens County Democratic Committee. “It’s not enough to target the individual. We need to reform the entire system.”
It's not enough to target the individual. We need to reform the entire system. #QnsCC4All
— Prameet Kumar (@prameet) February 19, 2019
Despite the heavy dose of criticism on Tuesday, Crowley and Shuster—who both have more than 10 months left before they can start lobbying federal lawmakers—are far from alone in exiting Congress and immediately taking jobs on K Street. As Politicooutlined:
Former Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), Luke Messer (R-Ind.), Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), Tom Rooney (R-Kan.), and Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) have all joined lobbying firms, although not all of them plan to register to lobby. Former Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) and Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) have started their own consulting firms.
Squire Patton Boggs confirmed to the outlet that Crowley and Shuster—unlike some of their former congressional colleagues—both plan to register as lobbyists.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
As UK Lawmakers Call Out Facebook Execs as ‘Digital Gangsters,’ New Zealand Moves to Tax Tech Giants
“The era of self-regulation for tech companies must end immediately.”
By: Jessica Corbett
As U.K. lawmakers called for strict regulations “to curb the worst excesses of surveillance capitalism” following the release a damning report that details an investigation of Facebook, New Zealand’s Labour Party announced Monday it is pursuing tax reforms to require multinational tech giants “to pay their fair share.”
“Highly digitalized companies, such as those offering social media networks, trading platforms, and online advertising, currently earn a significant income from New Zealand consumers without being liable for income tax. That is not fair, and we are determined to do something about it.”
—Finance Minister Grant Robertson
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed the decision in a press conferencefollowing a cabinet meeting on Monday, tellingreporters that “our current tax system is not fair in the way it treats individual tax payers, and how it treats multinationals.”
“Highly digitalized companies, such as those offering social media networks, trading platforms, and online advertising, currently earn a significant income from New Zealand consumers without being liable for income tax. That is not fair, and we are determined to do something about it,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in a statement.
Revenue Minister Stuart Nash explained that the government is working with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) “to find an internationally agreed solution for including the digital economy within tax frameworks.” However, he added, “we believe we need to move ahead with our own work so that we can proceed with our own form of a digital services tax, as an interim measure, until the OECD reaches agreement.”
The news out of New Zealand came as the U.K. Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee put out a report outlining the results of an 18-month probe of “disinformation and fake news” on Facebook—which found that the company “intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws,” as Tory MP and committee chairman Damian Collins summarized in a statement.
Calling out Facebook and its executives for behaving as “digital gangsters,” the report, as the Guardian outlined:
- Accuses Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive, of contempt for Parliament in refusing three separate demands for him to give evidence, instead sending junior employees unable to answer the committee’s questions;
- Warns British electoral law is unfit for purpose and vulnerable to interference by hostile foreign actors, including agents of the Russian government attempting to discredit democracy; and
- Calls on the British government to establish an independent investigation into “foreign influence, disinformation, funding, voter manipulation, and the sharing of data in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the 2016 EU referendum, and the 2017 general election.”
“Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalized ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day,” Collins warned. “The big tech companies are failing in the duty of care they owe to their users to act against harmful content, and to respect their data privacy rights.”
“We need new independent regulation with a tough powers and sanctions regime to curb the worst excesses of surveillance capitalism and the forces trying to use technology to subvert our democracy.”
—Deputy Labour Leader Tom Watson
“We need a radical shift in the balance of power between the platforms and the people,” he concluded, calling for stricter regulations and reforms to existing rules that are outdated in the current digital era.
The U.K. Labour Party concurred. “Labour agrees with the committee’s ultimate conclusion—the era of self-regulation for tech companies must end immediately,” said Deputy Leader Tom Watson. “We need new independent regulation with a tough powers and sanctions regime to curb the worst excesses of surveillance capitalism and the forces trying to use technology to subvert our democracy.”
Both MPs also sharply criticized Zuckerberg. Collins said he “continually fails to show the levels of leadership and personal responsibility that should be expected from someone who sits at the top of one of the world’s biggest companies,” while Watson charged that “few individuals have shown contempt for our parliamentary democracy in the way Mark Zuckerberg has.”
Demanding “urgent action” by lawmakers to implement many of the report’s recommendations, the U.K.-based rights group Privacy International welcomed that the document “recognizes the role of personal data and criticizes a business model that aims to gain market dominance by exploiting people’s data.”
NEW – Our response to the @DCMS report on #fakenews …urgent action MUST be taken to hold the companies and political parties who exploit our data accountablehttps://t.co/LKBb2KpMvP pic.twitter.com/hEgqXDNg7l
— Privacy International (@privacyint) February 18, 2019
Facebook’s U.K. public policy manager Karim Palant denied any wrongdoing by the company but also told Reuters, “We are open to meaningful regulation and support the committee’s recommendation for electoral law reform.”This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Singers/Songwriters J.T. Lewis and Kent Blazy Talk With Talking Hendrix Friday Night 7-8 p.m. www.activatemedia.org
By Ed Wroblesk
Our first guest is singer/songwriter JT Lewis has made quite a journey from the heart of Cajun Country in Baton Rouge, LA to his new home in Nashville, TN. In 2017- touring with and opening for Logan Mize he played over 80 shows gaining immense exposure and acquiring loyal fans. In 2018, he brought his high-energy act across the country for over 100 shows, including a CMA MusicFest stage Debut. His rock solid work ethic has led him to share the stage with artists like Charles Esten who played Deacon on CMT’s “Nashville”, Chris Bandi, and others. His influences of pure country lyrics, pop melodies, and hard rock riffs, is like a Cajun gumbo recipe for an energy filled show where the fans can’t help but dance and sing along to all their favorite songs and his Music Row Charting single, “Good Times,”penned by Lewis along with co-writer Scott Lynch (Lee Brice, Faith Hill, Trace Adkins) keep the audience on the dance floor.
Links To J.T. Lewis’s social media:
Our second guest is singer/songwriter Kent Blazy :
Kent Blazy is an American country music songwriter from Lexington, KY who now calls Nashville, TN home. His credits include several singles for Garth Brooks, as well as singles by Gary Morris, Diamond Rio, Patty Loveless and Chris Young. Blazy has a total of seven number one hits to his credit. Kent Blazy was raised in Lexington, Kentucky. At an early age, he played rhythm guitar and sang in various local bands, citing The Byrds, Rodney Crowell and Joe Ely as influences. He later played for Canadian singer Ian Tyson. Later on, Blazy met former Exile member Mark Gray, who suggested that Blazy move to Nashville, Tennessee. Eventually, he signed to a publishing contract, but the publishing company closed; despite the loss of contract, Gary Morris sent Blazy’s “Headed for a Heartache” into top 5 on the country charts. By the late 1980s, Blazy met with a then-unknown Garth Brooks, who gave him the idea for a song entitled “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” He and Brooks co-wrote the song, which went on to become Brooks’ first number one hit. Brooks continued to record Blazy’s material throughout the 1990s, including the singles “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up),” “It’s Midnight Cinderella,” “She’s Gonna Make It,” “Somewhere Other Than the Night” and the George Jones duet “Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?).” He also co-wrote “That’s What I Get for Lovin’ You” by Diamond Rio and “Can’t Get Enough” by Patty Loveless in the late 1990s. Blazy, along with songwriters Pat Alger, Tony Arata and Kim Williams, recorded an album entitled A Songwriters’ Tribute to Garth Brooks, which included their renditions of songs that they had written for Brooks. This album was released in 2001 via VFR Records. Other songs that Blazy has co-written include “You Can Let Go” by Crystal Shawanda and “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)” by Chris Young from 2008 and 2009 respectively, as well as American Idol season 8 finalist Danny Gokey’s debut single “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me.”
Highlights of Kent Blazy’s Career:
•New CD – Kent Blazy “Songwriter” Released January 2019
•Blazy was a spirited musician born in Woodstock, NY, and raised in Lexington, KY
•As a boy, he would put his transistor radio up to his ear before bed and listen to Roger Miller to Sinatra to the Beatles to the Four Tops on WVLK AM.
•At age 16, Blazy got a guitar for Christmas and started putting the poetry he wrote to music.
•He bought packs of Marlboros for an older boy down the street in exchange for a few lessons on guitar licks, and he saved all his weekly lunch money to buy picks and strings.
•At age 24 years old and making a go of it as a professional artist.
•Hit songs recorded by Garth Brooks, Gary Morris, Diamond Rio, Patty Loveless and Chris Young. The Forester Sisters, T. Graham Brown, Donna Fargo and Moe Bandy and more have recorded his tunes.
•A total of seven number one hits with Garth Brooks to his credit including, “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” He and Brooks co-wrote the song, which was Brooks’ first number one hit.
•Philanthropic interests include Alive Hospice, in honor of his wife who passed away from cancer. Read The Tennessean article online here.
Kent’s Recent Albums:
2018 Kent Blazy – Songwriter
It’s a mix of Rock & Roll,Country,Americana,and Bluegrass and Singer-Songwriter,everything i love and grew up with..
2017 Kent Blazy ’66
FUN was the key word in making this record.I took my band into the studio with me to get that LIVE sound i loved so much growing up. 4 musicians in one room looking at each other,playing off each other ,making music. I am forunate to have great musicians. Danny Flowers,writer of “Tulsa Time” and many other hit songs is a fantastic guitar player and we play off each other really well. ,Steve Bryant is an amazing session bass player having played on many hit records. He is also a long time friend which makes it a joy to create with him. Will Johnston,the drummer, is young in age but not in experience having already played with folks like Van Morrison. It was an amazing group effort and we cut 8 songs in one day! The songs came to me in the year since i recorded the “New Songs From Old Guitars” record. Alot of these songs were inspired by the ever changing, everyday wild world and how i would like to be and how i would like to see the world.The final song,”Cut From The Same Cloth” was written with and features the amazing artist Cory Batten on vocals and production. “2 Choices” was written with Leslie Satcher, one of the great writers of our time, and “Difficult Kind” was written with Warner Bros artist Will Hoge. It’s an eclectic mixture of sounds that have inspired me since i picked up a guitar in 1966 (i was 2,ha). Hence the title of the record ’66 .Thanks for checking this out, and i hope you enjoy listening to the music as much as i enjoyed making it. PEACE..kent
2016 New Songs From An Old Guitar
Dedicated to heroes, friends and angels
This album is an exciting departure for me in both the way the songs were written and how they were recorded. It was inspired by a 1955 Martin D-28 named Olive Gail that I found in a small music store in St. Louis on my birthday in 2014. “Olive Gail” was written in gold on the headstock of the guitar. She was very road worn and had been hanging high up on a wall above a door for two years. No one had played her during that time, and I swear she called to me as i walked out the door. I walked back into that room, saw her hanging in the dark and asked to see her. She needed a home, much love and repair, and I was the one to give Olive all of that. Olive’s first song was OLD GUITAR. It was so amazing to sit down with her and have that song be born. That was the spark for all the other songs that would come out of both of us. The next song i wrote about her was OLIVIA GAIL, a tribute to the original owner, co-written with and performed on this cd by Cory Batten. More songs started coming—songs about folks that inspired me and songwriting friends whom I’ve met along the way. So many songwriters come to Nashville with a dream and little else. Every story of the ones who make it has an element of magic. Dylan was a big influence on me like he has been for so many others. I wanted my song FOOTSTEPS OF DYLAN to convey the way he went from folksinger to pop star at the Newport Folk festival of 1965, a turning point in music. i had fun creating the song’s morph from acoustic to electric, and the players did a great job of making my idea come to life. The entire “electric side” was produced live in the studio with my band in a single session one afternoon, much as musicians worked in the sixties. I thank Olive Gail and all the wonderful beings who helped bring this project to life.
2015 – Me & Garth
Cover Story – celebrating “Much Too Young (To Be This Damn Old)” reaching #8 at private house party (since label did not provide a party.) Next single was “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” the photo was them saying it will be a #1 song!
Tune-in on Friday Night from 7-8 p.m. on: