By Darren Franich
Updated January 23, 2012 at 10:22 PM EST
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chris Dodd — retired Senator from Connecticut, current CEO of the MPAA, and unofficial Commissioner of the Fun Police — has become the most vocal Hollywood advocate for anti-piracy legislation. So it’s not surprising that Dodd had some harsh words for the government in the wake of Congress’s decision to put the hardline copyright bills PIPA and SOPA on hold. However, Dodd has now found himself at the center of a potentially far-reaching scandal, thanks to comments he made on Fox News last week. Dodd told the news network, “Candidly, 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. 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.”

Fox News interpreted Dodd’s statements to be a direct message to President Barack Obama, who is currently finalizing plans for a year on the campaign trail. But Dodd seemed to be talking more generally about Hollywood’s support for liberal causes: “I would caution people don’t make the assumption that because the quote ‘Hollywood community’ has been historically supportive of Democrats, which they have, don’t make the false assumptions this year that because we did it in years past, we will do it this year.”

Over the weekend, a petition was launched on the White House website accusing Dodd of outright admission of bribery. Campaign finance are incredibly confusing — especially now that corporations are people — but the most essential rule is that donations to politicians cannot be based on a direct transaction, or a quid pro quo, which is Latin for… something.

Essentially, it’s illegal for you to say, “Hey, Random Politician, I’ll give you $2 million if you promise to give my evil investment bank a huge tax break.” But it is legal for you to say, “Oh hi there, Random Politician! I run an evil investment bank. Boy, taxes sure are high on evil investment banks nowadays, am I right? BTDubs, here’s $2 million. See you at the club!”

Anyhow, the petition argues that Chris Dodd was insisting that the government restart the anti-piracy crusade or risk losing out on donation money — a violation of the quid pro quo rule. In the petition’s own language, “This is an open admission of bribery 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.” The petition currently has 21,374 signatures — when it reaches 25,000, the Obama administration has pledged to officially respond.

When contacted about Dodd’s statements, a spokesperson for the MPAA told EW: “Senator Dodd was merely making the obvious point that people support politicians whose views coincide with their own. When politicians take positions that people disagree with, those people tend not to support those politicians.” It’s worth noting that, although the MPAA is Hollywood’s main lobbying arm, it’s not as if Dodd has any say in how individuals in the movie industry donate their money.

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