Who's in the tank for Comcast?

Posted by Todd O'Boyle on April 6, 2015

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Comcast is a big, big, spender. It employs an army of lobbyists who use cash to influence everything from telecoms to agricultural policy (no really, last year it lobbied on the farm bill.) Comcast's influence peddling extends up and down the ballot - from their 124 federal lobbyists, to their state-level meddling through ALEC, all the way down to city-level politics. 

All of this spending on politicians and astroturf groups has left Comcast accustomed to getting its way.  

But a funny thing happened when the nation's largest cable company attempted to snatch up its next largest rival, Time Warner Cable. The press started calling the firm out for its shoddy service and unseemly political transacting. 

Over the last couple months, Spencer Woodman has published a series of articles on how Comcast ghostwrote pro-merger for politicians on the take. Read here how the former Oregon Secretary of State (now Governor), signed a pro-merger letter written almost entirely by Comcast. Woodman uncovered similar shenanigans in Hawaii, and most recently in Chicago.

Oh, Chicago, a town with a storied history of political malfeasance. In his report for The Nation, Woodman shows how Mayor Emmanuel's office used legal loopholes to thwart his Freedom of Information Act request on Emmanuel's letter in support of the Comcast merger. Incidentally, Woodman cites reporting that

"Comcast and its employees had donated over $100,000 to Emanuel’s political activity, including $50,000 to his 'mayoral campaign and his other municipal political organizations' in Chicago." 


And today the New York Times reports on how Comcast's largess has resulted in letters of support for the merger from

"from the Nutmeg Big Brothers  and Big Sisters in Connecticut, the  Houston Area Urban League and even the  Dan Marino Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Fla."

If that weren't enough, the Times interviewed Geoff Manne from TechFreedom, an industry-front group that fights common sense public interest protections at the Federal Communications Commission. Regarding industry funding Manne told the Times, "maybe there is some subconscious thing there."

Anyone with a pulse would call that "subconscious thing" pay to play.

Comcast may have a gaggle of lobbyists, a passel of politicians on the take, and enough Astroturf for the Super Bowl of lobbying, but we have you.

This merger is on the ropes. That’s why Comcast has called in every favor it can. With your help we can win this fight. Help us get to a million comments at the FCC, and land a knockout blow for consumer protection, competition, and media diversity. Take action today.

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Media and Democracy

Tags: Media Monopolization

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