Comcast’s Army of Lobbyists Continues to Raise Ethical Concerns

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Comcast’s army of revolving-door lobbyists continues to raise ethical concerns as it seeks a $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Times’ Michael Hiltzik is the latest to note that Comcast has hired dozens of lobbyists who formerly worked for congressional committees and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)—the same entities that would scrutinize and approve the merger:

So, let slip the dogs of war. The sheer scale of Comcast’s lobbying effort, which includes lavish campaign contributions to members of Congress, hints at the obstacles that opponents of the merger will face in persuading lawmakers and regulators of the damage this deal will do to the public interest. (A fact sheet from Consumers Union is here.)

The Public Accountability Initiative’s LittleSis website lists 28 former congressional and White House staffers working Comcast’s side of the street on the merger deal.

They form a subset of the 76 Comcast and Time Warner Cable lobbyists identified by Time magazine’s Alec Rogers as having ties with congressional committees, current and former members of Congress and minority organizations expected to voice an opinion on the merger.

Meanwhile, the OpenSecrets blog of the Center for Responsive Politics revisits the revolving door between Comcast and the FCC. The outstanding scandal of this relationship was the resignation of FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker in May 2011 to take a lobbying job at Comcast—a mere four months after she voted to approve Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal. We reported on the ethical aspects of Baker’s move at the time. Short version: There was nothing ethical about it.

Comcast also has extensive ties to the Democratic Party, raising additional concerns about the post-merger influence it could wield in markets such as local political advertising.