June 01, 2011

CREW Investigates: AT&T Gives to Lawmakers’ Charities

By crewstaff

AT&T logoAT&T has ramped up its lobbying amid scrutiny of its $39 billion bid for T-Mobile. But the company’s influence operation goes deeper than that: CREW researchers found AT&T gave $1.24 million to charities in honor of members of Congress from 2008 to 2010, donations that have drawn less scrutiny.

In addition to contributing to candidates and Political Action Committees (PACs), contributing to lawmakers’ charities is another way for companies to curry favor. CREW has found one other example of AT&T using this approach. The company pledged $250,000 to a charity run by the wife of Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) around the same time AT&T needed the governor to sign off on favorable legislation.

Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV), the chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, is the biggest individual recipient of AT&T’s charitable donations. His committee oversees the Federal Communications Commission, which must sign off on the merger. The top Republican recipient of AT&T’s largesse is Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS). The company donated $65,000 in his honor, including two $25,000 donations made to the Mississippi State University Foundation in both 2008 and 2009.

AT&T also donated heavily to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

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