NY Times: Comcast lobbying efforts

Written by admin on September 27th, 2010

New York Times reports on the vast amounts of campaign dollars Comcast is spending while their deal to acquire NBC is being considered.

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NY Times

Comcast has poured out its piggy bank in Washington to see it through, spending tens of millions of dollars on lobbyists, donations, ads and investments. That spending has recently become a talking point for opponents, who say that Comcast is effectively trying to buy government approval for the deal.

“It’s a big, expensive example of machine politics,” said Susan P. Crawford, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, who is writing a book about the proposed merger. “You hire all the lobbyists and lawyers in town; you hand out contributions to every politician you can think of; you buy the affections of every group that might complain about the merger, and you strike fear in the hearts of anyone who will need to do business with you in the future.”

She added, “It’s about as subtle as a wet fish in the face.”

Comcast counters by saying that such steps are common when companies are facing regulatory approval in Washington.

According to disclosure forms, Comcast has about 30 lobbying firms on its payroll. OpenSecrets.org recently added Comcast to its list of so-called Heavy Hitters, the groups that “consistently bring the biggest bags of cash to political fights.”

Contributions to political campaigns in the current election cycle on behalf of Comcast or its employees have not differed much from the election in 2008. That year, Comcast gave almost $3 million to candidates, compared with about $2.5 million so far in this election year.

Comcast has spread its campaign contributions very widely, and a significant number of politicians who received contributions have publicly backed the merger. For example, nine of 11 Hispanic members of Congress who signed a letter of support in July received donations this election cycle from Comcast’s political action committee. In part to smooth the way for a deal, Comcast this year announced a $20 million fund for new media businesses owned by minorities .

 

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