Plenty of money and influence will be at the table Tuesday when the CEOs of AT&T and DirecTV appear at back-to-back hearings before two congressional subcommittees reviewing the anti-trust implications of the proposed merger between the two corporate giants.
So it’s a good time to review some of the considerations that might be in the back of lawmakers’ minds at they consider the merger, including their time spent with the companies’ lobbyists.
For example, DirecTV’s Andrew Athy cohosted a “rooftop reception” in 2012 for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
AT&T’s Bryan Cunningham co-hosted a 2011 dinner for Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., when he was looking to move from the House to the Senate and, the same year, a “debt retirement dinner” for Mike Lee, R-Utah. Both Republicans serve on the antitrust subcommittee that will be hearing from AT&T’s Stephenson. Lee is the panel’s top-ranking Republican.
It’s not just the lobbyists who play the influence game. The two company CEOs who will appear before lawmakers today, DirecTV’s Michael White and AT&T’s Randall Stephenson, are both significant campaign contributors, giving almost exclusively to Republicans.
Stephenson last year donated $42,600 to the Boehner for Speaker committee, benefitting House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. He’s also been generous to GOP committees and candidates, especially those in his home state of Texas.
A complete list of Stephenson’s contributions, compiled by the Sunlight Foundation’s Influence Explorer from the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute of Money in State Politics is available here.
White donated $50,000 to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and another $20,000 to Restore Our Future, the super PAC that backed the GOP nominee. Also noteworthy are White’s contributions to Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who just fended off a primary challenge, and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. Both are top-ranking Republicans on their respective chambers’ Judiciary Committees, which will play a key role in reviewing the merger. White also shows a taste for GOP mavericks: He donated by outspoken conservative Herman Cain’s outsider presidential campaign in 2012 and to the unsuccessful Senate campaign of World Wrestling Federation exec Linda McMahon.
A complete list of White’s contributions is available here.
Witnesses at the afternoon hearing before Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights include one Democratic giver. Christopher Keyser, president of the Writers Guild of America West, has backed President Barack Obama and a number of Democratic candidates for Congress, including Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. A complete list of his contributions is available here.