Report: Comcast Gave Campaign Contributions to Every Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee

April 11, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

It is likely that Comcast will have no problems getting the support of U.S. lawmakers for its proposed $45.2 billion merger with Time Warner Cable. Why, you ask? Well according to several campaign finance watchdog groups (as reported by Ars Technica), the majority of lawmakers reviewing the merger in hearings have taken campaign contributions from the cable operator directly or indirectly.

For example, every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held the first congressional hearing on the Comcast/TWC merger yesterday, have taken campaign funds from the company. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) received $35,000 from the Comcast federal political action committee between 2009 and 2014; Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) received $32,500; and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) received $30,000. These figures are the combined contributions from Comcast to the senators' campaign and leadership committees.

Senator Schumer recused himself from the merger hearings in the Senate because his brother, a lawyer, worked on the deal. Out of 18 committee members (10 Democrats and eight Republicans), 17 of them received money from Comcast's federal PAC, according to the database at OpenSecrets.org.

Even the deal's most outspoken critic, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), received money from Comcast indirectly: a Comcast PAC gave $5,000 to Franken's recount fund in 2009. Franken has also received $15,050 from Comcast employees since 2009.

Using OpenSecrets tools, Ars Technica has put together a handy list of Senate Judiciary Committee members how have taken money from the Comcast PAC:

Comcast PAC donations to Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats:

  • Chuck Schumer, New York: $35,000
  • Patrick Leahy, Vermont, Chairman: $32,500
  • Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island: $26,500
  • Chris Coons, Delaware: $25,000
  • Dick Durbin, Illinois: $23,000
  • Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota: $22,500
  • Dianne Feinstein, California: $18,500
  • Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut: $11,500
  • Mazie Hirono, Hawaii: $5,000
  • Al Franken, Minnesota: $0

Comcast PAC donations to Republicans:

  • Orrin Hatch, Utah: $30,000
  • Chuck Grassley, Iowa, Ranking Member: $28,500
  • John Cornyn, Texas: $21,000
  • Lindsey Graham, South Carolina: $13,500
  • Jeff Sessions, Alabama: $10,000
  • Mike Lee, Utah: $8,500
  • Ted Cruz, Texas: $2,500
  • Jeff Flake, Arizona: $1,000

In addition to money from Comcast PACs, Ars Technica put together a list (using OpenSecrets again) of donations from Comcast employees.

Comcast employee donations to Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats:

  • Chris Coons, Delaware: $44,200
  • Chuck Schumer, New York: $31,600
  • Dick Durbin, Illinois: $30,400
  • Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota: $23,123
  • Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island: $22,331
  • Patrick Leahy, Vermont, Chairman: $15,250
  • Al Franken, Minnesota: $15,050
  • Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut: $14,000
  • Dianne Feinstein, California: $6,025
  • Mazie Hirono, Hawaii: $4,500

Comcast employee donations to Republicans:

  • Orrin Hatch, Utah: $23,750
  • Chuck Grassley, Iowa, Ranking Member: $3,000
  • Lindsey Graham, South Carolina: $2,000
  • Jeff Sessions, Alabama: $0
  • John Cornyn, Texas: $0
  • Mike Lee, Utah: $0
  • Ted Cruz, Texas: $0
  • Jeff Flake, Arizona: $0

While U.S. lawmakers have no power to stop the merger, they have a lot of power and influence over the agencies that can. Their influence can be exerted on both the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department to help steer what these agencies focus on in their reviews. But judging by the list above we don't expect any Senators sitting on the Judiciary Committee to kick off a letter writing campaign opposing the merger to the appropriate regulatory agencies anytime soon.

Source: Ars Technica


Comments

Re: Report: Comcast Gave Campaign Contributions to Every ...

Son of a bitch! How is this NOT considered corruption?

Living in Canada is awesome. We enjoy the universal healthcare and gun-free environment of a European country while getting all of our games released at the same time as the US.

Re: Report: Comcast Gave Campaign Contributions to Every ...

Because those with the gold say it isn't.

Re: Report: Comcast Gave Campaign Contributions to Every ...

Hooray, the system fails again.

Re: Report: Comcast Gave Campaign Contributions to Every ...

But judging by the list above we don't expect any Senators sitting on the Judiciary Committee to kick off a letter writing campaign opposing the merger to the appropriate regulatory agencies anytime soon.

Well, maybe Franken, since he got nothing from them. But we'll see.

Re: Report: Comcast Gave Campaign Contributions to Every ...

Well, not from the PAC but he did get $15k from Comcast employees.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Report: Comcast Gave Campaign Contributions to Every ...

Any idea what counts as an 'employee'?  I am assuming they are not simply taking the individual donations and matching them to some directory of every person drawing a paycheck from such a large company. 

Re: Report: Comcast Gave Campaign Contributions to Every ...

"Any idea what counts as an 'employee'?"

Looking at how OpenSecrets.org is organized, it looks like contributors who list their occupation as "Comcast."

"I am assuming they are not simply taking the individual donations and matching them to some directory of every person drawing a paycheck from such a large company."

No, it appears to be a lot simpler than that.  Just filter by occupation and look who the recipients are.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Report: Comcast Gave Campaign Contributions to Every ...

In that case, I would not read much into that number personally.

 
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