The attorney general of Indiana announced Wednesday that he is resigning to lead the Democratic political arm of the Technology Network, or TechNet, a prominent Silicon Valley high-tech lobby group.
Jeff Modisett, 45, elected to the Hoosier state's top law-enforcement post in 1996, says he plans to leave office one year before his term expires, as soon as the state's governor appoints a successor.
Modisett will become TechNet's VP and general counsel and will focus on Democratic lobbying and fund-raising issues.
Modisett says a growing interest in the development of Internet policy swayed him to make the leap from elected office to high-tech lobbying. He organized a conference of the National Association of Attorneys General on the impact of cyberspace on law enforcement, taking place next week in Palo Alto, Calif.
"I know what state regulators are looking at," Modisett says. "But I'm very much a fan of the new technology and want to find a way to make sure we find a bridge between the two communities."
TechNet is a national network of chief executives and senior partners from some of the world's leading technology companies. It was started two years ago in order to get elected officials and industry leaders to talk about some of the issues affecting the Internet Economy. Along with other tech lobbies, TechNet has managed to convince lawmakers to extend the research and development tax credit and broaden the number of highly skilled foreign workers allowed to immigrate to the U.S. for jobs.
But the group is perhaps best known for its fund-raising parties. Scores of elected officials make the trek to Silicon Valley each year to meet with high-tech CEOs and attend fund-raisers organized by TechNet.
Modisett says he needs to discuss with TechNet President and CEO Roberta Katz what the group's priorities will be in the coming year. But he acknowledges that some of the issues with which states have been grappling - such as the dilemma over how to collect sales taxes on Internet purchases - are likely to confront TechNet as well.
Modisett replaces Wade Randlett, who left TechNet in October to join a startup called RedGorilla.com. Modisett is a native of Windfall, Ind., and doesn't expect to pick up and move to California immediately.
After graduating from Yale Law School, he clerked for Chief Judge Robert Peckham of the Northern District of California. In 1982, he joined the United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, where he rose to the rank of deputy chief of the public corruption and government fraud division. In 1988, he became Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh's executive assistant for public safety. He was elected Marion County Prosecutor in 1990, and was elected State Attorney General in November 1996.