U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, author of the controversial SOPA bill, received more campaign cash from the entertainment industry than from any other source, according to the most recent available campaign finance records.
The Texas Republican is chief sponsor and one of the most outspoken supporters of the Stop Online Piracy Act, and he announced the day before Wednesday's massive SOPA blackout protest that the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, will take the bill up again next month.
Millions of Americans and some of the Web's largest entities -- including Google, Facebook and Reddit -- have come out against the SOPA legislation, but Smith argues that the bill is necessary to stem piracy, copyright infringement and other ills.
It is amazing to me that the opponents apparently don't want to protect American consumers and businesses, Smith told Reuters last week. Are they somehow benefitting by directing customers to these foreign Web sites? Do they profit from selling advertising to these foreign Web sites? And if they do, they need to be stopped. And I don't mind taking that on.
A look at Lamar Smith's campaign finance records suggest one more thing that may be informing his thinking on these contentious issues of piracy and copyright infringement: cash. The entertainment industry is one of the most vociferous backers of SOPA, and some of its biggest players have filled his campaign coffers with dollars.
Smith's official campaign committee received more money from the entertainment industry during the 2011-2012 campaign finance cycle ending Sept. 30, 2011 (the most recent available) than from any other industry. The entertainment industry's donations to Smith totalled $60,800 during that period, according to OpenSecrets.org, while the computers/internet industry added another $28,500.
His leadership PAC also brought in big bucks from such sectors, raking in $35,000 from its biggest contributor, the computers/internet industry, while its second-biggest contributor was the TV/movies/music industry, which donated $28,000, according to Open Secrets.
And the single contributor that donated the most to Smith's campaign committee was CC Media Holdings (the parent company of Clear Channel Communications), which pitched in more than $18,000, according to Open Secrets, while Comcast Corp., the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, National Football League, Barger Broadcast Investments, the Recording Industry Association of America and Time Warner Cable each gave him $5,000.
The campaign finance records do not reveal the reasons why contributors donate to a candidate, so it is impossible to say how much of the money was donated as a result of SOPA or any other individual issue.
The SOPA bill has been repeatedly pushed back in the congressional schedule, and is looking increasingly likely to die before becoming law, as the Obama administration has written a lengthy critique asking that it be changed and some members of Congress have withdrawn their support.