Verizon Spends Big on Lobbying and Political Campaigns as It Seeks End to “Net Neutrality”

Verizon Spends Big on Lobbying and Political Campaigns as It Seeks End to "Net Neutrality"

With telecommunications giant Verizon headed to federal court next week seeking legal authority to overturn “Open Internet” rules, Common Cause reported today that the company has invested more than $53 million since 2010 to lobby and help elect President Obama and members of Congress that it likely will look to for support whatever the court decides.

“Goodbye Open Internet?” documents the special attention the company has paid to Obama and legislative leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and his predecessor, former Rep. Roy Blunt (now a Missouri senator), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as well as to members of four congressional committees charged with developing the laws governing its business.

“Millions of Americans write checks to Verizon every month to secure their connections to the Internet,” said Todd O’Boyle, director of Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative. “Verizon, meanwhile, is writing checks to secure its connections to lawmakers and enhance its influence on their decision-making.”

The President’s re-election campaign and groups tied to it have been the largest single recipients of the company’s aid, the study found, taking in nearly $224,000. Obama has spoken repeatedly of his support for Net Neutrality but the issue received little attention during his successful re-election drive last year and he’s had little to say about it during his second term. Tom Wheeler, Obama’s recently confirmed nominee to head the FCC, also has given few hints of how he’ll manage the issue.

Meanwhile in Congress, Verizon has invested heavily in leaders like Boehner ($33,000 over the past two elections), and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer ($50,800 during the same period) as well as members of four committees — Judiciary plus Energy and Commerce in the House and Commerce, Science and Transportation plus Judiciary in the Senate — that are responsible for laws regulating it.

The committee members received Verizon-linked contributions of more than $1.2 million over the past two election cycles; some $527,000 of that came in the form of donations totaling $10,000 or more to each of 28 committee members.

Read the full report