AT&T's Generous Contributions to Lawmaker-Linked Charities

June 1, 2011 -

How do you give money to politicians without actually giving them a big fat check directly? Write a check to a charity they are closely associated with. That is just what AT&T has been doing, and it is getting the attention of the public and media outlets.

AT&T has given a substantial amount of money to charities connected to several lawmakers including Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia), who just happens to be the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has direct jurisdiction over the Federal Communications Commission. A charity associated with Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), who just happens to be on the Senate Appropriations Committee. AT&T also gave a generous contribution to a charity associated with Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina), the No. 3 House Democrat. His daughter, Mignon Clyburn also happens to be a member of the Federal Communications Commission.

These charitable contributions are perfectly legal and fully disclosed to the public, but most don't see the connection between the charities, the lawmakers, and AT&T motive: to get its $39 billion merger with T-Mobile approved by the FCC.

That's why we have watchdog groups like Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, who see this sleight of hand by corporations more and more.

"It’s another way to curry favor when you’ve maxed out in your political contributions," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "We’re seeing it more and more."

Since 2008, AT&T has given nearly $1.25 million to lawmaker-affiliated charities, according to tax records and lobbying disclosure data analyzed by CREW.

Politico claims that the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute have been major beneficiaries of AT&T’s generosity. Several lawmakers in the two minority caucuses serve on the House Judiciary Committee, which recently held a hearing on the AT&T/T-Mobile deal last week where Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chairman and CEO, made an appearance.

Other donations include $25,000 in 2008 and 2009 to the Mississippi State University Foundation and $15,000 to the Mississippi Council on Economic Education (tied to the Thad Cochran Endowment for Entrepreneurship); $10,000 to the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville (tied to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell); $415,000 to the CBC Foundation and another group the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute; $5,000 to the Missouri Walk of Fame on behalf of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-N.C.); $15,000 to Rep. Joe Baca's (D-Calif.) foundation (AT&T employees serve on the boards or advisory councils of both organizations); $55,000 from AT&T to the James E. Clyburn Research and Scholarship Foundation in 2009 and $86,000 to the South Carolina State University Foundation Inc (where Clyburn and his wife, Emily, graduated from); $295,000 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute over the last three years.

AT&T's Marie Long also chairs the Corporate Advisory Council for the CBC Foundation, while AT&T employee Jerry Fuentes, serves on the CHC Institute’s board of directors.

The other piece of this puzzle, T-Mobile, gave around $85,000 to lawmaker-linked charities during the same three-year period, and one of the company’s senior officials — Marie R. Sylla-Dixon, T-Mobile’s chief legislative counsel — belongs to the CBC’s advisory council, CREW found.

Vince Morris, Rockefeller’s spokesman, dismissed the idea that AT&T’s support for the Rockefeller-linked charities would have any impact on the Senator's stance on the merger. “The senator’s interest in supporting Alzheimer’s research is separate and long term and never touches on his evaluation of the AT&T merger,” Morris said in a statement to POLITICO. “Even the idea that donating to a charity would influence him is ridiculous.”

Still it's hard to deny that donations - even well intentioned ones with no ulterior motives attached - give an appearance of impropriety.

AT&T’s donations include $165,000 to two organizations tied to Rockefeller: the Blanche Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute and the Alzheimer’s Association. AT&T and its employees have donated almost $38,000 to Rockefeller’s reelection campaign over the past several years as well, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In addition, the company kicked in an additional $8,000 to Rockefeller’s leadership committee, Mountaineer PAC, in the last election cycle.

While Politico's article may have singled out AT&T - mostly because it is seeking approval on a merger that could have a dramatic influence on the mobile phone industry - plenty of other corporations are pushing generous donations to charities associated with lawmakers.

Source: Politico


Comments

Re: AT&T's Generous Contributions to Lawmaker-Linked ...

Yeah whats comical is that the "pay off" in most cases costs more than implementing whatever it is AT&T is trying to avoid.

In this case though the "pay off" is to screw the general public out of "choice" in the wireless industry.

Re: AT&T's Generous Contributions to Lawmaker-Linked ...

The types of loop holes that not only need closing, they need to be welded, bolted, hot glued and bricked over.

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Should 'Hatred' have been removed from Steam Greenlight?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
PHX Corp@Adam802 We'll break out the popcorn in June12/19/2014 - 9:23pm
ZippyDSMleeMaskedPixelante: I'm itching to start it too but I will wait till the patch goes live. >>12/19/2014 - 7:52pm
Adam802Leland Yee and Jackson get trial date: http://sfbay.ca/2014/12/18/leland-yee-keith-jackson-get-trial-date/12/19/2014 - 5:24pm
MaskedPixelanteNevermind. Turns out when they said "the patch is now live", they meant "it's still in beta".12/19/2014 - 5:07pm
MaskedPixelanteSo I bought Dark Souls PC, and it's forcing me to log into GFWL. Did I miss something?12/19/2014 - 5:00pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/12/republicans-may-have-plan-to-save-internet-providers-from-utility-rules/ this is intreasting. congress may put net nutrality in to law to avoid title 2 classification12/19/2014 - 2:45pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.polygon.com/2014/12/19/7421953/bullshit-cards-against-humanity-donated-250k-sunlight-foundation I have to admit I like the choice o organization. congrats to CAH.12/19/2014 - 1:51pm
E. Zachary KnightIf you are downloading a copy in order to bypass the DRM, then you are legally in the wrong. Ethically, if you bought the game, it doesn't matter where you download it in the future.12/19/2014 - 12:06pm
InfophileEZK: Certainly better that way, though not foolproof. Makes me think though: does it count as piracy if you download a game you already paid for, just not from the place you paid for it at? Ethically, I'd say no, but legally, probably yes.12/19/2014 - 11:20am
ZippyDSMleeAnd I still spent 200$ in the last month on steam/GOG stuff sales get me nearly every time ><12/19/2014 - 10:55am
ZippyDSMleeMaskedPixelante:And this is why I'm a one legged bandit.12/19/2014 - 10:51am
ZippyDSMleeE. Zachary Knight: I buy what I can as long as I can get cracks for it...then again it I could have gotton Lords of the Fallen for 30 with DLC I would have ><12/19/2014 - 10:50am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/12/19/marvel-vs-capcom-origins-leaving-online-storefronts-soon/ Speaking of "last chance to buy", Marvel vs. Capcom Origins is getting delisted from all major storefronts. Behold the wonders of the all digital future.12/19/2014 - 9:59am
MaskedPixelanteSeriously, the so-called "Last Chance" sale was up to 80% off, while this one time only return sale goes for a flat 85% off with a 90% off upgrade if you buy the whole catalogue.12/19/2014 - 9:37am
E. Zachary KnightInfophile, Tha is why I buy only DRM-free games.12/19/2014 - 9:37am
MaskedPixelanteNordic is back on GOG for one weekend only. And at 85% off no less, which is kind of a slap in the face to people who paid more during the "NORDIC IS LEAVING FOREVER BUY NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE" sale, but whatever...12/19/2014 - 9:28am
InfophileRe PHX's link: This is one of the reasons the digital revolution isn't all it's cracked up to be. There's also the flip side where Sony can block access to games you've bought if they ban your account for unrelated reasons. All power is theirs.12/19/2014 - 8:52am
MaskedPixelantehttp://uplay.ubi.com/#!/en-US/events/uplay-15-days You can win FREE GAMES FOR A YEAR! Unfortunately, they're Ubisoft games.12/18/2014 - 6:29pm
Papa MidnightAh, so it was downtime. I've been seeing post appear in my RSS feed, but I was unable to access GamePolitics today across several ISPs.12/18/2014 - 6:06pm
james_fudgeSorry for the downtime today, folks.12/18/2014 - 5:54pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician