Philadelphia congressman Robert Brady recently joined 71 other lawmakers in signing a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) questioning the commission's newly stated policy of network neutrality, which would prohibit Internet providers from favoring or discriminating against types of traffic coming across their lines. Of the 72 letter signatories, Brady is the leading recipient of campaign contributions from the combination of telecom companies and their lobbyists. Since 2007, Brady has received a total of $91,650, all from one company and their lobbyists, the Philadelphia-based Comcast Corporation.
Brady has a long standing history of supporting the policies of Comcast Corporation. In 2006, Brady, along with 38 of the other letter signatories, voted against an amendment to the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006 that would have established a federal net neutrality policy.
The Democratic letter signatories have stated that the letter is not a letter of opposition, but instead simply a voice for concern. The previous voting behavior of a large number of signatories is one sign that this is not the case. The similarity that the letter bares to public statements by Comcast executives is another sign that the agenda of the signatories is closely linked to that of the companies opposing the policy shift.
The letter signed by Brady and 71 other Democrats mimics the language released by Comcast after the FCC's announcement of a net neutrality proposal. The Democratic letter reads as follows, "...we believe in a transparent, data-driven process and stand ready to work with you on measures that will spur adoption and expand the use of broadband networks. But we remain suspicious of conclusions based on slogans rather than substance and of policies that restrict and inhibit the very innovation and growth that we all seek to achieve." Comcast's executive vice president issued a statement with almost identical language, "We appreciate and support Chairman Genachowski's commitment to have a fair, fact-based, and data driven process to explore these issues. We continue to hope that any rules adopted by the Commission will not harm the investment and innovation that has made the Internet what it is today and that will make it even greater tomorrow."
Comcast has been at the center of net neutrality debate since the company was a subject of an FCC ruling that led to censure for slowing the lines for certain customers engaged in peer-to-peer downloads. Comcast claimed that some users were slowing the lines with excessive downloads of BitTorrent files. The FCC, however, ruled that Comcast had "arbitrarily picked an application and blocked their subscribers' access to it."
So far this year Comcast has contributed over $1 million to lawmakers and candidates for Congress. In the previous election cycle, Comcast contributed nearly $3 million.