Adam Polaski

71 AT&T-Funded Democrats Endorse Merger

Filed By Adam Polaski | June 28, 2011 8:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: AT&T, Butterfield, Democrats, Department of Justice, FCC filings, GLAAD, merger, Net Neutrality, opensecrets, T-Mobile

Democrat.jpgGLAAD, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the League of United Latin American Citizens aren't the only ones who've filed letters endorsing AT&T's mega merger with T-Mobile while they received funding from the telecommunications corporation. Yesterday, a letter signed by 76 Democratic members of Congress* praising the merger was submitted to the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice, which are currently reviewing the proposed merger between the companies. The distribution of the letter was led by Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina and comes just a month after Democrats and Republicans alike expressed concern at the merger.

Of the 76 members of Congress who signed onto the letter, guess how many of them received financial campaign support from AT&T? 71, according to a Bilerico Project review of campaign finance records from OpenSecrets.org, which corrects previously-published information from other blogs.**

During the 2009-2010 campaign cycle, the company donated a combined $500,000 to those 71 members, and in their career campaigns for Congress, which date as far back as a decade for some representatives, AT&T donated a combined $1.68 million.

Five of the representatives who signed the document, dated June 24, 2011 - Karen Bass, David Cicilline, Mark Critz, Pedro Pierluisi, Jared Polis, and David Price - have not received campaign donations from AT&T, according to OpenSecrets.org records.**

The letter in support of the merger is similar to those submitted to the FCC by other organizations, including the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. It heralds the merger's ability to increase national broadband coverage, create "thousands of jobs," and amplify support for unions. It reads (See the PDF version of the full letter):

It is important that [reviews of the merger] proceed in a thorough and expeditious manner to fairly examine all relevant issues including consumer prices, competition, and innovation. One significant issue to assess in your reviews is increased national coverage. As a part of its merger proposal, AT&T has committed to building a next-generation wireless broadband network that proposes to cover 97 percent of Americans. Such a commitment will require billions of dollars in private investment capital and create thousands of jobs, including many good paying union jobs with solid benefits, which will greatly contribute to our continuing economic recovery.

[...]

The benefits of nationwide, next generation wireless broadband are manifest, and we support the President's pledge to make that vision a reality. The pending AT&T merger proposal pledges to help realize that vision and for this reason, we urge you to give important consideration to these and other prospective benefits during your comprehensive review.

The 76 Democratic members of Congress are the latest group to get behind the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, a divisive corporate move that would create an even larger telecommunications conglomerate, minimize competition, threaten net neutrality for wireless high-speed Internet, and potentially raise the price of phone service and result in a loss of jobs. Other organizations, including the NAACP, LULAC, and GLAAD have been accused of endorsing the merger as a quid pro quo for the funding and sponsorships they have received from AT&T. This new development with the Democratic members of Congress indicates that the initial story about LGBT organizations' support of the merger and receipt of AT&T funding could be much broader.

The full Bilerico Project review of the campaign donation numbers from AT&T appear below.

REPRESENTATIVE NAME: 2010 CYCLE DONATIONS (CAREER DONATIONS)

Joe Baca (D-CA): $10,250 ($70,000 Career)
John Barrow (D-GA): $10,000 ($35,500 Career)
Karen Bass (D-CA): $0 ($0 Career)
Shelley Berkley (D-NV): $7,000 ($7,000 Career)
Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA): $11,250 ($38,750 Career)
Tim Bishop (D-NY): $10,500 ($18,500 Career)
Dan Boren (D-OK): $10,000 ($37,250 Career)
Robert Brady (D-PA): $9,000 ($14,000 Career)
Corrine Brown (D-FL): $6,000 ($21,500 Career)
G. K. Butterfield (D-NC): $10,500 ($29,000 Career)
Dennis Cardoza (D-CA): $10,000 ($32,250 Career)
Ben Chandler (D-KY): $7,000 ($27,500 Career)
Donna Christensen (D-VI): $7,500 ($7,500 Career)
David Cicilline (D-RI): $1,000 ($1,000 Career)
William Lacy Clay, Jr. (D-MO): $10,500 ($32,250 Career)
Yvette Clarke (D-NY): $7,000 ($14,500 Career)
Steve Cohen (D-TN): $5,000 ($10,000 Career)
Gerald Connolly (D-VA): $9,500 ($9,500 Career)
Jim Costa (D-CA): $10,500 ($36,250 Career)
Joe Courtney (D-CT): $4,250 ($11,000 Career)
Mark Critz (D-PA): $0 ($0 Career)
Joseph Crowley (D-NY): $10,000 ($32,000 Career)
Henry Cuellar (D-TX): $10,000 ($36,400 Career)
Danny K. Davis (D-IL): $6,000 ($53,500 Career)
Rosa DeLauro (D-CT): $2,000 ($11,000 Career)
Ted Deutch (D-FL): $6,400 ($6,400 Career)
Chaka Fattah (D-PA): $8,000 ($15,000 Career)
Marcia Fudge (D-OH): $9,000 ($18,500 Career)
Al Green (D-TX): $10,000 ($37,500 Career)
Gene Green (D-TX): $10,000 ($88,710 Career)
Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ): $0 ($2,000 Career)
Charles A. Gonzalez (D-TX): $10,500 ($77,550 Career)
Luis Gutierrez (D-IL): $5,500 ($40,600 Career)
Alcee Hastings (D-FL): $10,000 ($29,500 Career)
Brian Higgins (D-NY): $3,000 ($8,000 Career)
Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX): $7,500 ($39,750 Career)
Tim Holden (D-PA): $8,000 ($20,500 Career)
Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D-IL): $3,350 ($44,307 Career)
Eddie Bernice Johnson $9,000 ($36,000 Career)
Henry C. Johnson, Jr. (D-GA): $2,000 ($12,000 Career)
Ron Kind (D-WI): $7,000 ($50,500 Career)
James R. Langevin (D-RI): $8,250 ($17,500 Career)
John B. Larson (D-CT): $5,500 ($11,750 Career)
Ben Ray Luján (D-NM): $5,000 ($5,000 Career)
Mike McIntyre (D-NC): $8,000 ($26,000 Career)
Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY): $9,500 ($43,250 Career)
Brad Miller (D-NC): $2,000 ($8,750 Career)
Betty McCollum (D-MN): $1,000 ($3,000 Career)
Jerry McNerney (D-CA): $13,000 ($28,600 Career)
Michael Michaud (D-ME): $8,500 ($22,000 Career)
James P. Moran (D-VA): $2,500 ($9,500 Career)
Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT): $6,800 ($14,300 Career)
Grace Napolitano (D-CA): $4,000 ($4,000 Career)
Frank Pallone (D-NJ): $7,500 ($41,250 Career)
Ed Pastor (D-AZ): $10,000 ($26,750 Career)
Ed Perlmutter (D-CO): $5,500 ($10,500 Career)
Collin C. Peterson (D-MN): $4,500 ($10,500 Career)
Pedro Pierluisi (3-PR): $0 ($0 Career)
Jared Polis (D-CO): $0 ($0 Career)
David Price (D-NC): $0 ($3,000 Career)
Nick J. Rahall (D-WV): $10,000 ($21,500 Career)
Silvestre Reyes (D-TX): $8,500 ($13,500 Career)
Cedric Richmond (D-LA): $3,450 ($3,450 Career)
Mike Ross (D-AR): $10,250 ($31,000 Career)
C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD): $7,500 ($15,500 Career)
Loretta Sanchez (D-CA): $11,000 ($67,500 Career)
Terri Sewell (D-AL): $6,000 ($6,000 Career)
Adam Schiff (D-CA): $5,500 ($20,000 Career)
David Scott (D-GA): $11,500 ($23,000 Career)
Brad Sherman (D-CA): $5,500 ($10,500 Career)
Heath Shuler (D-NC): $10,000 ($18,450 Career)
Albio Sires (D-NJ): $9,000 ($15,000 Career)
Adam Smith (D-WA): $4,500 ($16,500 Career)
Betty Sutton (D-OH): $4,000 ($8,000 Career)
Peter Welch (D-VT): $6,500 ($10,000 Career)
Frederica Wilson (D-FL): $3,000 ($3,000 Career)

TOTAL 2009-2010 CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: $511,750
TOTAL CAREER DONATIONS: $1,681,517

* Note: One of the signatures comes from Pedro Pierluisi, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico to the United States, who is affiliated with the Democratic Party.

** Note: Some sources have incorrectly identified Laura Richardson as a signature on the document. The numbers in the table here are accurate per the records on OpenSecrets.org. The total value is a minimum value and could be slightly higher - OpenSecrets catalogs the Top 100 campaign donations, so if AT&T was not a Top 100 Donor to the candidate (generally $2,000 or less), it may not appear in OpenSecrets' records.

Update: This article originally reported that Pride at Work submitted a letter to the FCC in favor of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. However, the organization did not submit a letter to the FCC - they have only voiced support for the merger. Additionally, G.K. Butterfield was originally reported as a Virginia representative. He hails from North Carolina. Thanks to Peggy Shorey and Pam Spaulding for corrections.

Information has surfaced that David Cicilline has also received campaign support from AT&T: $1,000 in 2010. This information does not appear on OpenSecrets because it was not in the Top 100 donations to Cicilline's campaign. Thanks, Bilerico commenter edith, for the tip. The numbers in the table on this post have been updated to reflect the new information.

See Previous Bilerico Project Coverage of the AT&T/T-Mobile Merger & Net Neutrality:


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For more information on the merger check out Free Press' Timothy Karr's excellent piece today on HuffPost about the inaccuracies in the Democrats' letter: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-karr/the-us-congress-where-it-_b_885825.html

Go Local Providence says Cicilline did receive a $1,000.00 donation from AT&T:

While initial reports did not list the amount Cicilline received, the Congressman’s Communications Director Jessica Kershaw confirmed that it was $1,000.

http://www.golocalprov.com/politics/cicilline-supported-business-merger-after-receieving-campaign-contribu/

the question is why didn't they write about Langevin, R I's only other representative, who is among all the democrats? in your list. truthfully, neither one of R I's rep's is better than the lesser evil, which to quote Jerry Garcia via Jesse Ventura, is still evil.

What a world!

Thanks for the link, Edith. OpenSecrets.org only catalogs the Top 100 contributors (http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cid=N00032019&cycle=2010&type=I&newMem=Y&recs=100), so AT&T's $1,000 donation didn't show up in those search results.

Thanks for the Open Secrets link. I couldn't open it but I was able to do some digging there only to realize you had listed Langivin's AT&T contribution for 2010. AT&T is 25th among Langevin's list of top contributors, you have 8,250. I came up with 8,500 - close enough. It makes it seem very odd that Cicilline is getting all the attention. He is very vulnerable, however. He has a lot of enemies, too. The financial situation he left Providence in without telling anyone before his election doesn't help, either but a lot of the criticism toward him is unfair and based on homophobic prejudice. Where he is concerned the equation is very complex regarding criticism that is justifiable and that which isn't.

Anyway, I linked to this in case you are interested. David Segal wrote this article on the issues surrounding net neutrality with Aaron Schwartz: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-segal/the-chamber-of-commerces-_b_774518.html They both head up Demand Progress and write about electronic freedom issues frequently. Segal ran against Cicilline for Patrick Kennedy's seat. Segal took no corporate money. He was, however, a much more qualified and informed candidate. In spite of Cicilline's support from HRC, Segal, I believe, would have been much more progressive on all human rights issues including GLB/ETC issues. It is very unfortunate he is not sitting where Cicilline is now. Still, a very large question looms over R I as to why Cicilline is being taken to task over this while Langevin is let off the hook.