Pandora founder Tim Westergren, its CEO and half of the company's board of directors have made campaign donations to several powerful anti-gay marriage, anti-abortion Republican Congressman. Utah Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz believes that D.C. autonomy is unconstitutional and led the charge to roll back gay marriage there.
Representative Bob Godlatte of Virginia is a bit less radical than Chaffetz, but has also supported both bands on same sex marriage and efforts by anti-abortion groups.
In 2013, Pandora's then CEO Joseph Kennedy donated money to Chaffetz and Goddlatte, along with Pandora board members Peter Gotcher, David Sze and Westergren. It's “a very nasty story of anti-gay demagoguery, political corruption, corporate skullduggery and pay-to-play politics,” says David Lowry who broke the story on his Trichordist blog.
But do Panodra's exec support these key stands by right wing Republicans? Maybe not, but their personal and corporate gain apparently trumped any personal moral stance. Congressman Chaffetz was the co-sponser of Internet Radio Fairness Act, which Pandora supported and sits on the subcommittee which regulates copyright and music licensing.
Godlatte chairs the House Committee on the Judiciary and the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet. Both are at the center of current efforts to rewrite copyright laws which govern Pandora's payments to artists, labels and other rights holders.
Pandora issued a statement to Billboard calling the controversy "an unfortunate distraction from the substantive conversation about how to ensure that the music industry thrives well into the future."