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Inside Move: Bono — No RIAA interview

Politico has a working knowledge of the industry

It seems Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) isn’t nearly as excited about the RIAA job as her staff is.

Bono, who is forming a congressional caucus on music piracy and copyrights, sought Monday to defuse speculation over whether she wants to run the music industry’s lobbying organization in Washington, saying she isn’t actively seeking the job.

Bono, said she hasn’t considered whether she would accept a prospective offer to replace the departing chief executive of the Recording Industry Assn. of America, Hillary Rosen, but stopped short of denying she was interested.

Her spokeswoman, Cindy Hartley, earlier had described the position as Bono’s “ideal job” but said her boss wasn’t actively pursuing the position and plans to run for re-election.

“I am not actively seeking that job,” Bono said. “I have not talked to them, they have not talked to me. I haven’t put myself through the mental gymnastics about whether I would or wouldn’t take that job. I have my ideal job. I’m very happy where I am.”

Political watchdog groups in Washington questioned the idea of a member of Congress being a possible job candidate for the music industry’s lobby and a founding member of a caucus to focus on some of the industry’s most important policy concerns.

The RIAA has been tight-lipped about who could succeed Rosen.

A month ago the RIAA was trying to woo Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke but she wouldn’t bite. Monday Clarke an-nounced she is leaving the White House, and political insiders believe she will eventually throw herself into the Bush re-election effort.

Speculation also has swirled around White House flack Ari Fleischer, who publicly admitted weeks ago that he wanted a job in the private sector. Some administration aides have even pitched Mitch Bainwol, the former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee who left a few months ago to launch a consulting company.

Certainly, Bono’s name has popped up among a list of female GOP candidates — including former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.) and current Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.). The music industry org has spent weeks formally interviewing candidates (including Molinari), and so far Bono has not been one of them.

Those promoting Bono admit they are doing so without any inside knowledge that she is under consideration. They simply believe Bono is one of the few lawmakers with a working knowledge of the industry gained from her experience managing the royalties of her late husband, Sonny Bono. But watchdog groups cited several conflict of interest issues.

Rough estimates of Bono’s net worth, released on financial disclosure Monday, show that she and her two children own copy-rights on Sonny Bono’s music collection worth $580,000 and $1.3 million; in 2002 they reaped between $210,000 and $1.23 million in royalties.

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