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MPAA threat sparks White House petition for bribery probe

Politicians should remember who bought them, MPAA CEO warns

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Chris Dodd, ex–US senator and current CEO of the Motion Picture Ass. of America, may face a White House investigation after he made an extraordinary outburst that appeared to threaten politicians who had the audacity to take the entertainment industry’s money and then abandon SOPA/PIPA online-piracy legislation.

“Those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake," Dodd told Fox News. "Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”

The comments caused a huge stir, and prompted a petition, hosted on the White House's "We the People" opinion-seeking site, that calls for an investigation of the MPAA on bribery charges.

Once the number of signatures on the petition reaches 25,000, the White House has to issue a statement – and as of early afternoon Washington DC time, over 19,000 signatures had been attached. It was such a petition, by the way, that prompted the White House to express its initial disapproval of SOPA.

“This is an open admission of bribery,” the petition reads, "and a threat designed to provoke a specific policy goal. This is a brazen flouting of the 'above the law' status people of Dodd's position and wealth enjoy. We demand justice. Investigate this blatant bribery and indict every person, especially government officials and lawmakers, who is involved.”

Dodd may have thought he was among friends on Rupert Murdoch’s “Fair and Balanced” Fox network, or could just have been angry at the temporary hold put on the legislation, but it’s highly unusual for anyone in his position to openly acknowledge the way the US political system works. Companies and individuals who "donate" to US lawmakers usually express the convenient fiction that their financial contributions are expressions of support for a candidate, and not attempts to bribe them on specific issues.

“It was Hollywood’s arrogance in pushing bills through Congress without proper vetting that caused them to be withdrawn; these threats also are not helpful to figuring out what ails the industry and how to solve their issues,” said Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge, which is fighting the legislation. “If the MPAA is truly concerned about the jobs of truck drivers and others in the industry, then it can bring its overseas filming back to the US and create more jobs.” ®

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