Glenn Greenwald‘s latest column illustrates how telecom companies are attempting to buy amnesty from Congress through a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign. He is dead on by calling the effort "a perfect microcosm for how our government institutions work."
By accessing the Center for Responsive Politics’ lobbying database, Greenwald reports that in the first three months of this year, three telecom companies (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast) have spent a combined $13 million lobbying Congress. If they maintain this pace throughout this year (and what’s to stop them?), the three companies will spend $50 million. Nonprofit groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are leading the fight against amnesty. Greenwald links to a post by Kurt Opsahl, EFF senior staff attorney, on his organization’s Deeplinks Blog. Opsahl makes the point that "AT&T’s spending for three months on lobbying alone is significantly more than the entire EFF budget for a whole year, from attorneys to sysadmins, pencils to bandwidth."Wanna place any bets on the outcome of this one?
Greenwald highlights some of the firms AT&T hired to carry their water on Capitol Hill, including Charlie Black’s BKSH & Associates, former Sens. John Breaux and Trent Lott‘s Breaux Lott Leadership Group, and the C2 Group, a lobbying firm filled with former Democratic lawmakers associated with the Blue Dogs. "This, of course, is what all leads to having these corporations literally write our nation’s laws and be able to get so close to having such an extraordinary and transparently corrupt gift — retroactive immunity for lawbreaking — granted to them," Greenwald wrote. "To describe the process is to illustrate its oozing, banana-republic-like corruption, but that’s generally how our laws are written." Greenwald is correct to note that it’s quite remarkable that the little "Davids" fighting against this collection of K Street "Goliaths" have prevented amnesty so far. Evidenced by their spending, the telecoms aren’t giving up.