Telecom reform group Public Knowledge made nice with industry long enough to take some of its cash Thursday night at a fundraising dinner celebrating the group's tenth anniversary.
The group honored three people for promoting PK's goals: Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who PK commended for fighting what he sees as overly-strict intellectual property rules on the Internet; Beth Noveck, the former federal deputy chief technology officer, for open government initiatives; and Peter Jaszi, a professor at American University's Washington College of Law, for his IP work.
The highlight of the evening was a roast of the outspoken and popular PK founder Gigi Sohn, a staunch advocate for net neutrality and against the AT&T merger with T-Mobile, among other issues that pit her against the giant phone and cable companies.
The roasters were some of PK's closest allies, including Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., Sprint's top Washington official Vonya McCann, Tom Power, chief of staff for the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, Google policy official Rick Whitt, Gary Shapiro, head of the Consumer Electronics Association, and Laurie Racine, who founded PK with Sohn.
Also spotted at the event was United States Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra.
Some of the best lines from the roast:
Shapiro labelled Sohn the "Lady Gaga of telecom policy" because she keeps things interesting; Power wondered if PK held the event at Union Station because "the platform at Metro Center was taken;" and Markey called Sohn "the smallest human to terrorize a giant since David hit Goliath on the forehead."
Meanwhile, Copps threatened to give a speech on media reform--an act he has undertaken in iterations over the years; Whitt joked that he needed counsel for his remarks from Verizon's top Washington official Tom Tauke, poking fun at Google for allying with Verizon on net neutrality (to the disappointment of PK); and McCann took aim at the unions for siding with AT&T in its T-Mobile takeover.
Stealing the show? Maura Corbett of Glen Echo Group, the master of ceremonies, who put a twist on a Billy Joel classic. She tweaked Sohn and mocked the telecom world in "PK State of Mind."