Comcast is waging a shock and awe campaign to secure approval of its proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable, assembling one of the largest lobbying teams ever seen in Washington, the Hill reports.
Comcast has now employed 40 firms to lobby for the merger, which is overseen by congressional committees and must ultimately be approved by the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The lobbyists include former members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees, Justice Department, FCC, and top officials within the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations:
Joseph Gibson of The Gibson Group, which started lobbying for Comcast in April, has held several prominent roles with the House Judiciary Committee, whose members grilled Comcast executives for four hours earlier this month. Gibson also worked at the Justice Department, including a stint advising the assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division.
Another heavyweight on the Comcast roster is Louis Dupart, a veteran of Capitol Hill, the Defense Department and the CIA who’s now at the Normandy Group. He says on his firm’s website that he "has had multiple successes at the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission on major anti-trust reviews for DuPont, Google, People Soft, and other companies."
Comcast’s willingness to embrace Washington’s "revolving door" is raising concerns about conflicts of interest:
"Though Comcast is not alone in its revolving door lobby strategy, what is unprecedented is the gravity of the revolving door abuse now being employed by a small handful of very wealthy communications firms," said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen.
He pointed to records compiled by the CRP that shows about 82 percent of Comcast’s lobbying squad in 2014 had worked in the public sector before going to K Street. For Google and Verizon, those numbers were 80 percent and 82 percent, respectively.
"This is nothing short of behemoth businesses within an industry fighting a war both amongst themselves and against federal regulators by employing armies with direct access to government," Holman said.