Poll: Keep regulators and the regulated far apart


The American public does not look kindly on the practice of regulators taking jobs with companies they used to regulate. According to a Rasmussen poll, a tiny minority — 10% — think it’s completely hunky-dory. 42% say that no such hire should be allowed until the regulator is five-years removed from the regulatory post, and almost a third – 32% — say the regulator should be permanently banned from moving to the regulated sector.

16% had no opinion, but that still leaves the group favoring strong restrictions in the overwhelming majority.
What’s more, almost half of those surveyed – 48% — believe that companies that offer jobs to regulators should be prohibited from doing business with the government. 51% think that making an offer of employment to a regulator is a form of bribery, and 59% believe some companies routinely hire former regulators in hopes of getting favorable treatment from the government. And 53% believe that the hopes of favorable treatment actually become reality.

RBR-TVBR observation: The timing of this poll is certainly related to the move being made by a certain FCC commissioner to a certain high profile media company, and the results certainly suggest that this particular move was a massive PR faux pas.

That said, this is almost a fairy tale poll – it fails to take into account the reality in Washington, which includes legislators as well as regulators moving from the government to the private sector. And most of the time, the moves generate no publicity whatsoever.

It also shows how this type of poll can produce questionable rather than thoughtful responses. Did any of the respondents pause to consider that fact that this is supposed to be a free country? That includes the freedom to pursue a career. That is hardly in keeping with the opinion of 32% that a potential avenue of employment for a qualified job candidate should be cut off for life.

Should there be limits to the move back and forth at the upper echelons of power? Sure – but let’s be reasonable about it. And let’s also remember that in the case of Meredith Baker, there is absolutely no reason to think she would have cast her vote any other way when the Comcast/NBCU venture was presented to her.