Chris Dodd Eyeing Gig as Hollywood’s Chief Lobbyist

Monday, 14 Feb 2011 08:22 AM

By James Hirsen

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Looks like Democrat Chris Dodd may soon be headed to Hollywood. Since retiring from Congress, he's at the top of the list to get a coveted $1.2 million per year gig as head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

If the top spot happens for him, not only would Dodd have his own private 70-seat theater in the nation’s capital from which he would get to host sneak previews for congressional members, he’d also be able to hobnob with Hollywood glitterati as one of their own.

Folks may be wondering how a guy, who allowed the insurance colossus AIG to pay out bonuses of $165 million around the same time the company was being funded with taxpayer bailout money, would be up for such a plum position. Or how one, who was investigated by a Senate ethics panel for allegedly taking below market discounts (aka bribes) for mortgages given to him by Countrywide Financial, would ever be considered for the job.

Well, it is, after all, a Hollywood position, and Hollywood hearts liberal Dems. Dodd most certainly returns the love.

The former senator has experience on a movie set, having portrayed himself in the Kevin Kline comedic White House film, “Dave.”

Believe it or not, Dodd once dated Carrie Fisher of Princess Leia fame. He also courted Mick Jagger’s ex, Bianca Jagger.

The cagey politician has maintained good relations with powerful Democratic supporters in the entertainment business including DreamWorks’ Steven Spielberg and David Geffen and the former heads of Miramax, the Weinstein brothers.

In the final campaign prior to his retirement, entertainment industry figures gave Dodd and his PAC almost $200,000. Hollywood donors included Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Universal Studios head Ronald Meyer and Time Warner President Jeffrey Bewkes. Paul Simon hosted a fundraiser for then-candidate Dodd.

If Dodd does land the job, he will replace former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, who recently left the post.

Dodd has a little legal impediment, however. Under the law, the former senator cannot register as a lobbyist for two years. And the primary business of the MPAA happens to be lobbying.

The group spent $1.66 million in 2009, lobbying Congress and the White House. During each and every election cycle, the MPAA PAC stuffs big bucks into campaign coffers of congressional candidates. As a result, previous head of the MPAA Glickman did register as a lobbyist.

If Dodd takes the MPAA reins, he will likely claim that he is engaged in consulting rather than lobbying, or that his lobbying activities do not rise to the 20 percent level that would mandate registration.

Such semantic gymnastics would allow Dodd to claim that at least he’s consistent.

James Hirsen, J.D., M.A. in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, commentator, media analyst and law professor. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court and has made several appearances there on various landmark decisions. Hirsen is the co-founder and chief legal counsel for Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood:

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