Al Franken hates cable mergers, but telecom companies love giving to his campaign

Categories: Politics

al franken rect.jpg

The U.S. Senate may have 100 members, but only one, Al Franken, has really made his opinion known on the recent cable and telecommunications mergers, bashing the deals between giants like Comcast, Time Warner, and Sprint.

While other senators may be holding back, Franken has repeatedly hammered the communications companies over fears of what the mergers could mean for consumers. After already heavily criticizing the proposed Comcast-Time Warner and Sprint -T-Mobile deals, Franken is now ripping into the proposed merger that would unite AT&T and DirecTV.

See also:
Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar not thrilled about prospect of Comcast-Time Warner merger

"Comcast wants to buy Time Warner Cable, and Sprint wants to buy T-Mobile--and AT&T says they need to get bigger, too," Franken said at a hearing on proposed merger of AT&T and DirecTV last month. "To me, that is not a good reason to approve this deal. And we need to examine this merger on its own terms. AT&T and DirecTV have explained why this is a good deal for them. As good corporate citizens, they must also explain why this is a good deal for consumers."

Franken's loud, impassioned position on the issue has certainly helped him to stand out from his colleagues, many of whom are too worried about the political backlash to take a real stand on the issue.

As recently as last week, Franken sent a letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, where he rattled off his concerns with the latest merger -- everything from worries about bundled broadband packages ("This deal could give AT&T more power to increase consumers' choices by forcing consumers into bundled packages that include services that consumers may not want ") to net neutrality ("AT&T has committed to voluntarily abide by the FCC's now-vacated 2010 Open Internet Order for three years if this deal is approved. However, AT&T has a history of skirting the spirit, and perhaps the letter, of that Order.")

But what's interesting is that even as Franken keeps fighting the power, his campaign has raked in past contributions from the very same companies he's targeting. The major players in the AT&T-DirecTV merger and other big telecom deals have both given big money to Franken.

According to a campaign finance database, DirecTV's PAC gave $2,500 in the 2014 cycle alone, with the employees of AT&T ponying up an additional $500. As for the other major telecom players? They haven't been shy, either. Comcast's PAC has already handed over $4,150 to Franken's campaign this cycle.

Franken spokesperson Alexandra Fetissoff responded, telling us, "Every day Sen. Franken goes to the mat for Minnesotans and whatever is in their best interests, regardless of who donates to his campaign."

The numbers do come with a few caveats: The amounts are from Franken's entire six-year re-election cycle, from 2008 to 2014, so they aren't necessarily from the very recent past. But they do show that even with a senator like Franken who's so against these big-time telecommunications mergers, companies are still reaching for political power wherever they can find it.


Send your story tips to the author, Robbie Feinberg. Follow him on Twitter @robbiefeinberg.




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25 comments
Joe Jakubik
Joe Jakubik

Like you waste your vote when you vote for a Republican't?

Chris Strabley
Chris Strabley

How much did Comcast donate to opponent PACs? Most likely this is a small ploy to show political objectivity.

green23
green23 topcommenter

I agree with others here that the amounts mentioned are too small to get upset over. If conservatives think that they can make hay over this, then they are mistaken. As they've repeatedly told us: money is speech, corporations are people, and the Right is very, very concerned about 'free speech'.


Franken's raised about three times the amount that McFadden has. As usual, Republicans support 'free speech' when it agrees with their ever-shifting narrative. When Republicans are out-spent, we hear endless whining about their opponent being "bought and paid for". When Republicans out-spend Democrats, it's how the System works, it's all about free speech, and it's proof of their candidate's popularity and strength.

jimbojones
jimbojones

Is CP this hard up for filler? Contributions to Franken are in excess of $3.5 million. So how is $4500 a story? I'd rather have read about the latest update in the feud between Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez.

Alex Browne
Alex Browne

Dirty Money is dirty money you flipping idiot.

_Joe_
_Joe_

So now it's a bad thing if a corporate entity donates to your campaign and you don't immediately bend over for them?


He's campaigning against the telecom industry despite the donations made to his campaign.


Since when is that not a show of integrity?

DavidFoureyes
DavidFoureyes topcommenter

Good article, though far too brief. Maybe a larger investigative piece is in order regarding how campaigns are financed in Minnesota at large and the Twin Cities in-particular....


Those amounts are hilariously paltry...many of us have probably donated this much to Al in the last 6 years...No excuse though.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

"Do as I say, not as I do." -Al Franken

TruDat
TruDat

What? Franken a hypocrite, say it isn't so. 40 votes for higher taxes, but the low information voters keep electing him. 

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

ya, they love giving pathetic amounts of money. what a shitty smear job over >10k

DavidFoureyes
DavidFoureyes topcommenter

@_Joe_ The broader context is that every business, industry, and union with an incentive to lobby (so, all of them?) is expected to throw money to every candidate in a race in which the outcome is not predestined and that this wouldn't be a story if voters didn't expect this sort of thing from some candidates but not others. I'd be interested to see what was contributed by these groups to other candidates for comparisons sake, not to draw any conclusions.

I suspect most of us expect a certain type of candidate to say one thing (say; smaller government) then do another (say; vote to build a giant fucking bridge with Federal money) moreso than another – so it seems our expectation that Al act more ethically than another candidate in those donations he accepts, is a liability. Bummer.

We can argue that the system is catastrophically broken (which it appears to be) – however because there is an incentive for Al to take that money or order to win in order to continue his work to fight monopolization within the industry from which (or if you're the Supreme Court: Whom) he’s taking money – shit, talk about a dilemma right?


ChazDanger
ChazDanger topcommenter

@TruDat His voters agree that there should be higher taxes.  You don't agree, that's fine, but calling him a hypocrite when it's what his voters want is incorrect.

_Joe_
_Joe_

@DavidFoureyes 

I see your point, but nearly every politician is in the same situation.  While it's likely that Franken's opponents received much more in terms of financial support, it's possible that they simply found him to be the better candidate despite his stance against monopolization of the industry.


I don't always agree 100% with the viewpoints of the politicians I support either.  I just agree with them on enough points that I find them worthy of my monetary support.  Neither do I expect them to toe the line of my ideal politician just because I threw them a few dollars.  I simply expect them to do what they say they will, and thus far, Franken has been doing a tremendous job of that.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

@ChazDanger Ha ha! You're the specialest kind of "special" and will never get it.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@ChazDanger   I can't wait for one of ming's classic pug based insults to really make you look dumb.  Then he will declare himself the winner in a debate against me and spend the rest of his night huffing glue.  

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@ChazDanger If only their 3rd grade teachers would have tried harder you wouldn't have to teach them so much Chaz.  

DavidFoureyes
DavidFoureyes topcommenter

@_Joe_ @DavidFoureyes Well, in this case CityPages is Al's "opponent" since no one else would have made a story out of this - and considering I've only seen the same 3 ads on the site all week, I sorta doubt they've been offered a dime by a communications company. Can you imagine the five-story pop-up and banners we'd see if some ad-sales guy at CP managed to land Comcast? $4,500 is like the annual editorial budget for Village Voice...CITY PAGES BROUGHT TO YOU IN PERPETUITY BY COMCAST.


In all seriousness - I don't disagree but I think we all just expected more from Al. I know I do. I also know this amount of money is a complete fuckin' joke in a contested Senate race...so refusing it would have been more of a story than taking it. Imagine CP got ahold of "Al Fraken Refuses Annual Rupar-Level-Salary To Make Point"...



I KID!!!

ChazDanger
ChazDanger topcommenter

@mingtran @ChazDanger Ming, Get what?  You haven't produced one piece of evidence to back up any of your outlandish claims and all you do is hurl insults.  What am I supposed to get?


I get that you are not very well educated, which might be the actual problem. 


Here's one example:

specialest 

A slang word used by cute chicks and middle school boys meaning "most special". It is similar to "bestest" and "cutemost". 

1. Wow, Peggy, those are the specialest, cutemost earrings! 

Nice job buddy! You used a word that only exists on urban dictionary, It's a school girl word to boot.


I now get it,  you're a child in middle school.  Will we no longer see you when summer is over? A majority of us hope so.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

@ChazDanger Exactly you freakin twat! You're not a "specialist" at anything. You are "King Special". Get it now?! 

You just proved you don't search past comments (which I make public, unlike you you because you're a bitch). See if you can figure out how I know that based on your comment, small fry.

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