According to the respected concert industry trade magazine Pollstar and the Congressional newspaper Roll Call, the reviled ticket broker Ticketmaster and the giant national concert promoter Live Nation have recruited a lot of top-dollar lobbying muscle to help them sell the proposed mega-merger on Capitol Hill, in addition to a list of impressive and well-connected names on the companies' boards of directors.
"As previously reported by Pollstar, the boards include some powerful FOBs - Friends of Barack," the magazine notes. Live Nation's board members include director Ari Emanuel, brother of President Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and Ticketmaster's board boasts director Julius Genachowski, a Harvard classmate of the President and a co-leader of the transition team's policy work group on technology, innovation and government.
Ticketmaster has retained former Rep. Mel Levine (D-Calif.)'s lobbying firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and Live Nation
has hired lobbyists Public Opinion Strategies. Lee Godown, longtime chief of staff to California Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez, and Daniel Kohns - Rep. Mike Honda's (D-Calif.) former communications director - both registered on behalf of the lobbyist firm and Live Nation.
CORRECTION/UPDATE: Glen Bolger, a partner in Public Opinion Strategies, has written to say that his firm "has NOT been retained for this project. We are not lobbyists. Odds are high that Roll Call meant to say Public Strategies, which is a lobbying firm." Indeed, Kohns is listed as working for Public Strategies on that company's Web site, though Sanchez is not.
Roll Call also reports that Live Nation is turning to powerhouse Democratic lobbyist Joel Jankowsky, former aide to House Speaker Carl Albert, in addition to Brunswick Group lobbyist and former Recording Industry Association of America CEO Hillary Rosen, as noted earlier on this blog
Writes Pollstar reporter Deborah Speer:
Odd how these circles go 'round - as head of the RIAA [Rosen] was on the opposite side of a controversy with one of Azoff's most noted management clients, Don Henley, when he was combating the Works for Hire recording practice.
Though the majority of Senators and Congressmen expressed degrees of skepticism about the merger, ranging from cautious wariness to outright disdain, during the two subcommittee hearings earlier this week, Ticketmaster/Live Nation obviously is not without friends in the Democratic party, and considerable pressure will be brought to bear on the Justice Department as it renders a decision (a process that, to date, remains a mystery to many reporters).
Then too there's the fact that, as one Washington, D.C. industry watchdog told this columnist, "For a precedent for the Obama administration vetoing this merger, you'd really have to go back to the Roosevelt years--and I'm talking Teddy, not F.D.R. Sad to say, the era of federal trust-busting is now ancient history."