All of these contributions are 100% legal and the American public is given full disclosure, so who’s really being hurt? The problem is that not many have really put the pieces together here to see the full picture. This isn’t the first time the telecom giant has acted in this manner. Around the time they needed legislative approval from Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) to sell cable television services, they pledged at least $250,000 to a charity run by Governor Jindal’s wife.
Sen. Rockefeller’s spokesman Vince Morris said in a statement to Politico, “The senator’s interest in supporting Alzheimer’s research is separate and long term and never touches on his evaluation of the AT&T merger.” Further, “Even the idea that donating to a charity would influence him is ridiculous.”
And that may be the case. Against everything else that says otherwise, there may not be any impropriety here. I can’t tell you with 100% certainty that these donations on the part of AT&T were driven by financial and political motives. I’m just a technology nerd. But the timing on them does seem strangely coincidental when there’s a big merger they’re trying to push through that is facing a lot of scrutiny and opposition. Arguments against it include less consumer choice, potential hikes in prices and rates, and the elimination of jobs to reduce post-merger redundancy. Then there are potential anti-trust issues - this deal would turn the mobile industry into pretty much a duopoly, with AT&T and Verizon holding a combined 80% of the market. All potential reasons to try and grease some wheels, if you're picking up what i'm putting down.
Interestingly enough, Sprint Nextel Corp and their CEO Dan Hesse, who has been the most vocal opponent of this merger, reported no donations to any charities with ties to American lawmakers.