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

Which group is more ethically challenged?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
TechnogeekThe constant conflation of "you shouldn't do this" as a personal guideline and "you shouldn't do this" as something with the force of law is really getting tiresome. Lawful Neutral was garbage in D&D, and it's garbage in real life.07/01/2015 - 12:24pm
PHX Corphttp://kotaku.com/sources-warner-bros-knew-that-arkham-knight-pc-was-a-1714915219 Sources: Warner Bros. Knew That Arkham Knight PC Was A Mess For Months07/01/2015 - 11:49am
Andrew EisenIf you do, I hope you can provide some examples of people (again, other than random no-name numbnuts on Twitter) who are genuinely trying to dictate what should and should not be allowed so far as themes, topics, language, plot devices, etc. go.07/01/2015 - 9:43am
MattsworknameI'd go into why I think it's a bigger problem then most realize, but nows not the time really. I'll catch up with everyone later07/01/2015 - 9:42am
Andrew EisenThat's the thing though, rarely is anyone (again, other than random numbnuts on Twitter) attempting to dictate what can and cannot be said or done.07/01/2015 - 9:39am
Andrew Eisen"Don't write rape scenes" is being offered as advice (along with reasons for that advice) not a mandate.07/01/2015 - 9:37am
MattsworknameOh, on that last one andrew I wasn't talking about the article, I was being more general, lately it seems like all the news and media is trying to decide what is and isn't proper to say. Thats what i was refering to.07/01/2015 - 9:37am
Andrew EisenPerhaps you should consider reading the entire article. Despite quotes you can pull from the intro and conclusion, the author isn't arguing that you can't or shouldn't be allowed to cover a certain topic.07/01/2015 - 9:35am
MattsworknameOne of the things I hate right now is that people are trying to be the deciders of what is and isn't proper to be said. It's political correctness to a level that makes me angry.07/01/2015 - 9:29am
Mattsworknamemake them, i just tell peopel that I think what they did sucked. Just cause I dont like what they did, doesn't mean I can tell them "You shouldn't wrtie that" cause thats just another step on the way to telling them "YOU CANT WRITE THAT".07/01/2015 - 9:24am
MattsworknameNo, but you or I aren't the one to tell someone else what they can or cannot do beyond EXTREMELY narrow limits. Telling a person then shouldn't write something or say something. I may hate certain movies or music, doesn't mean I dont' tell peopel not to07/01/2015 - 9:23am
E. Zachary KnightHasbro is taking steps to fix its Dinosaur gender issues. http://io9.com/the-jurassic-world-dinosaur-toys-are-clever-girls-again-171513589607/01/2015 - 9:20am
TechnogeekImagine that level of accuracy, only applied to something that has actually caused physiological and psychological trauma in more cases than just whatever the equivalent of the CD-i Zelda games would be.07/01/2015 - 8:40am
TechnogeekThat's the issue I see as well, E. To put it in terms anyone reading this site will likely understand: you know how any time video games show up on TV, they feature absurdly outdated 3D graphics and/or audio from the Intellivison era?07/01/2015 - 8:40am
InfophileWell, you CAN go to a crowded streetcorner and tell everyone who passes by your social security number and bank account PIN, but you shouldn't. Is that censorship?07/01/2015 - 8:36am
E. Zachary KnightSo if it is going to turn out to be a bad scene, why even bother writing it?07/01/2015 - 8:07am
E. Zachary KnightMatts, Goth, The article, and others I have read making the same conclusion, state that most people fail in their attempts to write rape scenes without being overly offensive or overly incompetent in their attempt.07/01/2015 - 8:07am
Adam802http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Ex-Sen-Leland-Yee-may-be-headed-for-a-plea-deal-6358941.php07/01/2015 - 7:12am
Adam802Possible plea deal in Yee case: http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_28408532/leland-yee-case-plea-deal-appears-likely07/01/2015 - 7:11am
MattsworknameInfo, Im with goth on this, the moment people start saying "You can but you shouldnt" thats a slow slide into censorship07/01/2015 - 6:05am
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician