While the Federal Communications Commission considers the first steps toward ensuring net neutrality–making certain that broadband providers do not discriminate against high traffic sites–the telecom firms that would be affected by the rules and their trade groups have been swamping Congress with a one-two punch of campaign contributions from the companies and their registered lobbyists. Some 244 members of Congress were the beneficiaries of these contribution clusters–totaling more than $9.4 million–from January 2007 to June 2009, an investigative collaboration of the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Responsive Politics has found. Telecom interests and their lobbyists engaged in more clustered giving than any industry save pharmaceuticals.
Overall, the top recipient of the largess was Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who took in $894,379 (many of those contributions were directed to his 2008 presidential campaign). The telecom interests also targeted House and Senate leaders: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was next with $341,089, followed by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. ($275,275), Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus, D-Mont. ($248,999) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ($198,972).
Broadband providers have attempted to enlist members of Congress in an effort to block action on net neutrality rules by the FCC. Verizon and AT&T have been particularly active in this effort; they also were the sources of all the clustered contributions among broadband providers, with AT&T and its outside lobbyists combining to give to 110 members, followed by Comcast (105 members) and Verizon (96 members).
The analysis was based on a survey of giving by eight large broadband providers and two trade associations that represent them, all of which have disclosed lobbying on net neutrality issues. We looked for outside lobbyists of these interests who contributed to the same members of Congress as their clients had. For example, 55 lobbyists who reported AT&T as a client collectively contributed $170,800 to Sen. John McCain; AT&T’s employees, their family members, and its political action committee contributed $206,438 to McCain. The greater the number of such clusters coming from a particular interest, the more likely it is that that member is being targeted by the interest.
As noted <a href=”http://thehill.com/hillicon-valley/605-technology/64373-report-telecom-firms-shower-lamakers-with-money-in-net-neutrality-fight”>here</a>, for example, McCain introduced legislation today to block the FCC from writing net neutrality regulations.
As Congress considers legislation that would codify net neutrality into law, telecom firms are hoping to cut a better deal on Capitol Hill than they are likely to get from the FCC.
|Client||Member||No. of Lobbyists*
|AT&T Inc||McCain, John||55||$206,438||$170,800|
|AT&T Inc||McConnell, Mitch||39||$18,500||$66,050|
|AT&T Inc||Cornyn, John||26||$13,750||$33,900|
|AT&T Inc||Wicker, Roger||26||$11,750||$33,625|
|AT&T Inc||Baucus, Max||25||$4,000||$37,300|
|AT&T Inc||Pryor, Mark||22||$14,500||$18,500|
|AT&T Inc||Hoyer, Steny H||21||$23,000||$47,775|
|AT&T Inc||Chambliss, Saxby||21||$18,400||$33,350|
|AT&T Inc||Blunt, Roy||21||$10,500||$62,650|
|AT&T Inc||Cantor, Eric||21||$10,500||$49,500|
|AT&T Inc||Udall, Mark||21||$6,500||$24,183|
|AT&T Inc||Landrieu, Mary L||20||$16,030||$27,000|
|Comcast Corp||McCain, John||30||$62,452||$70,925|
|Comcast Corp||McConnell, Mitch||27||$19,500||$49,322|
|Comcast Corp||Rockefeller, Jay||23||$25,000||$25,200|
|Comcast Corp||Reid, Harry||21||$57,400||$62,200|
|Comcast Corp||Baucus, Max||21||$27,500||$33,499|
|Comcast Corp||Warner, Mark||21||$18,883||$21,483|
|National Cable & Telecommunications Assn||McCain, John||31||$21,200||$73,550|
|National Cable & Telecommunications Assn||Warner, Mark||23||$6,000||$24,983|
|Time Warner||McCain, John||30||$31,733||$71,550|
|Time Warner||Warner, Mark||23||$29,350||$28,350|
|Time Warner||Reid, Harry||22||$38,800||$66,450|
|Time Warner||Rockefeller, Jay||21||$12,000||$22,500|
|Verizon Communications||McCain, John||59||$64,126||$159,527|
|Verizon Communications||Warner, Mark||39||$36,300||$49,800|
|Verizon Communications||Baucus, Max||39||$35,000||$56,250|
|Verizon Communications||McConnell, Mitch||34||$21,750||$53,750|
|Verizon Communications||Reid, Harry||34||$7,000||$76,589|
|Verizon Communications||Rockefeller, Jay||30||$28,000||$35,850|
|Verizon Communications||Meek, Kendrick B||30||$5,650||$35,648|
|Verizon Communications||Pryor, Mark||28||$3,000||$33,350|
|Verizon Communications||Dodd, Chris||27||$1,500||$62,600|
|Verizon Communications||Cantor, Eric||26||$29,200||$64,800|
|Verizon Communications||Udall, Mark||26||$4,950||$30,616|
|Verizon Communications||Roberts, Pat||25||$6,250||$29,850|
|Verizon Communications||Clyburn, James E||24||$18,500||$41,455|
|Verizon Communications||Hoyer, Steny H||23||$40,300||$50,700|
|Verizon Communications||Cornyn, John||23||$10,000||$25,100|
|Verizon Communications||Durbin, Dick||22||$13,700||$28,350|
|Verizon Communications||Collins, Susan M||21||$35,450||$27,900|
|Verizon Communications||Johnson, Tim||21||$6,500||$25,600|
*Number of lobbyists refers to the total number of outside lobbyists retained by an individual client who gave to the member.