Though recent Supreme Court decisions have many focused on new avenues for money to influence American politics it is worth keeping in mind that the old avenues are pretty expansive. There is perhaps no clearer recent example of legalized bribery than the report today by Ars Technica that Comcast’s PAC gave money to every senator examining the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.
In what other context would this kind of corruption be allowed? Comcast is literally giving money to the people who will help decide the fate of a business decision.
[J]ust how many politicians have accepted money from Comcast’s political arm? In the case of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held the first congressional hearing on the Comcast/TWC merger yesterday, the answer is all of them.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) led the way with $35,000 from the Comcast federal political action committee (PAC) between 2009 and 2014, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) received $32,500, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) received $30,000. These figures are the combined contributions from Comcast to the senators’ campaign and leadership committees. (Schumer has recused himself from the merger hearings because his brother, a lawyer, worked on the deal.)
Of course, I guess you only think this is a problem if you think money influences behavior.
The ultimate decision on the merger is with the FCC and Department of Justice but Congressional statements and attitudes will undoubtedly influence the decision. Comcast spent $18.8 million on lobbying last year.