AT&T hands out cash to merger backers

Why, what a surprise! It seems as if AT&T has been handing out wads of cash to groups that “coincidentally” support the corporation’s controversial acquisition of T-Mobile.

Yes, the NAACP, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the National Education Association have all issued public statements supporting the merger in recent weeks.

As expected, all three of the groups solemnly swear their backing for the deal has absolutely nothing to do with AT&T’s more than generous financial backing.

Similarly, AT&T insists it routinely infuses nonprofit groups with cash because it’s the right thing to do.

“For decades, AT&T has proudly supported numerous diverse groups and organizations,” a company spokesperson told Politico.

But Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to government transparency, isn’t buying what AT&T is selling.

“The money nonprofits receive from their corporate sponsors sticks not only in their bank accounts but in their minds,” Miller explained.

“This is what I think of as deep lobbying – there is an expectation that when push comes to shove, these groups will come out in favor of their benefactors.”

Meanwhile, Sherry Lichtenberg, a telecommunications expert at the National Regulatory Research Institute, said that AT&T’s strategy may be a “way to try to get Democratic members of the commission particularly.” 

According to Lichtenberg, this is a standard way to do things: “Figure out which are the strongest constituencies and go for them.”