How much do 15 Representatives cost? About $140K

Posted on Saturday, September 17th 2011 at 5:42 a.m.

Earlier this month I wrote an article about Bloomberg’s report that AT&T is spending 30% more in lobbying costs compared to 2010. In fact, AT&T is the third highest spender in lobbying funds after the ActBlue Democratic PAC and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers.

CNET is reporting that a group of 15 Democratic House Representatives sent an open letter to President Obama , urging him to direct the Department of Justice to allow the purchase of T-Mobile by AT&T. The representatives, led by North Carolina’s Heath Shuler, claims that the merger will create “somewhere between 55,000 and 96,000 new jobs” and “will engender new private investment to deploy wireless high speed Internet access to 97 percent of the U.S. population.” This neatly echoes AT&T’s claims that the merger will create jobs, even though the de facto result of a merger is job loss through consolidation of functions between the two companies’ operations. AT&T’s largesse is confusing considering that as recently as 2008 it cut 4% of its workforce and wasn’t even in the process of acquiring another wireless provider.

One interesting commonality amongst the signatories is that they are all members of a sub-caucus within the Democratic Party called the Blue Dog Coalition . The coalition is a group of fiscally conservative democrats who may or may not represent the continuation of the conservative Southern Democratic party of the mid-20 th century. They claim to bridge the gap in the current partisan Washington environment. Two policies of note in the coalition’s Mission Statement : “That a government too large and intrusive stands in the way of an opportunity society;” and “That government agencies are created to serve rather than to restrict, regulate and punish the American people.” It’s easy to see that a group so ideologically inclined may take issue with the Department of Justice blocking AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile, regardless of the anti-trust and competitive issues surrounding such a consolodation in the wireless industry.

In light of the Bloomberg story I thought I would research how much lobbying has been done with the 15 signatories of the open letter. Thanks to the Center for Responsive Politics’ excellent OpenSecrets.org website , I was able to track how much money the “Shuler 15” have received from AT&T since 2000. Rather than list the detailed figures in this article I thought I would provide a table detailing the total monies received since 2000 and the money received in the last election cycle, 2010.  The “Donations since 2000” figures vary wildly, depending on how long each of the Representatives has been elected to the House.

Representative 2010 Donations Donations Since 2000
Baca, Joe $10,250 $65,000
Barrow, John $10,000 $33,000
Boren, Dan $10,000 $27,000
Boswell, Leonard $10,000 $28,500
Cardoza, Dennis $10,000 $31,250
Chandler, Ben $7,000 $28,500
Costa, Jim $10,500 $29,750
Cuellar, Henry $10,000 $36,400
McIntyre, Mike $8,000 $28,500
Michaud, Mike $8,500 $25,000
Peterson, Collin $4,500 $11,000
Ross, Mike $10,250 $46,250
Sanchez, Loretta $11,000 $57,000
Scott, David $11,500 $34,000
Shuler, Heath $10,000 $18,450
Totals $141,500 $499,600

SOURCE:  OpenSecrets.org

So over the course of 10 years the 15 signatories of the letter have received almost $500,000 from AT&T.  That would lead a casual observer to believe that AT&T definitely has the ear of this team.  As well, in spite of the fact that candidates’ campaign budgets reach the seven figures even for Congressional races, AT&T can be one of the largest single donors to a campaign, which will definitely get a candidate’s attention.

My wife Meredith suggested I take a look at other wireless carriers to see if the money donated by Verizon and Sprint were the same. Sprint wasn’t even in the top 100 of corporate donors, so we’ll ignore them. Here is the breakdown for Verizon’s contributions to the 15 signatories:

Representative 2010 Donations Donations Since 2000
Baca, Joe $11,000 $48,600
Barrow, John $10,750 $20,750
Boren, Dan $7,000 $13,000
Boswell, Leonard $8,000 $19,500
Cardoza, Dennis $4,000 $10,000
Chandler, Ben $1,000 $1,000
Costa, Jim $3,000 $8,500
Cuellar, Henry $5,000 $14,500
McIntyre, Mike $2,000 $13,000
Michaud, Mike $0 $6,000
Peterson, Collin $1,000 $1,000
Ross, Mike $7,000 $19,500
Sanchez, Loretta $6,000 $17,000
Scott, David $2,000 $11,000
Shuler, Heath $4,500 $10,000
Totals $72,250 $213,350

 SOURCE:  OpenSecrets.org

Verizon has been slacking - they only donated half of what AT&T donated in 2010 and less than half over the past ten years.

Given the philosophical stand of the Blue Dogs, and the amount of money received from AT&T, it is not surprising they are taking the stand that they have. It remains to be seen whether the Shuler letter has any impact on the DOJ’s lawsuit, but given the data above, I think we will continue to hear favorable things about AT&T coming from the Blue Dog Coalition.

All donation figures courtesy of the Center for Responsive Politics.

comments powered by Disqus