Money talks — or at least Comcast hopes it does. The Senate Judiciary Committee held its first congressional hearing on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger Thursday, and every single member of the committee has taken money from Comcast PAC — even Democratic senator Al Franken of Minnesota, who is generally considered to be anti-Comcast.
Out of 18 committee members, 10 Democrats and eight Republicans, 17 got money from Comcast’s federal PAC, according to the database at OpenSecrets.org, technology website Ars Technica reported.
Ars Technica then confirmed with Mr. Franken’s spokespeople that he did accept $5,000 in Comcast PAC cash in 2009 for his recount fund, since OpenSecrets.org did not have that donation listed.
The full list of Senate Judiciary Committee members and cash they’ve accepted from Comcast PAC donations are:
Comcast PAC donations to Democrats:
• Chuck Schumer, New York: $35,000
• Patrick Leahy, Vermont, Chairman: $32,500
• Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island: $26,500
• Chris Coons, Delaware: $25,000
• Dick Durbin, Illinois: $23,000
• Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota: $22,500
• Dianne Feinstein, California: $18,500
• Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut: $11,500
• Mazie Hirono, Hawaii: $5,000
• Al Franken, Minnesota: $5,000 (2009 recount fund)
Comcast PAC donations to Republicans:
• Orrin Hatch, Utah: $30,000
• Chuck Grassley, Iowa, Ranking Member: $28,500
• John Cornyn, Texas: $21,000
• Lindsey Graham, South Carolina: $13,500
• Jeff Sessions, Alabama: $10,000
• Mike Lee, Utah: $8,500
• Ted Cruz, Texas: $2,500
• Jeff Flake, Arizona: $1,000
In Sen. Franken’s case, the recount money might not have been well spent.
“There’s no doubt that Comcast is a huge, influential corporation, and I understand that there are over 100 lobbyists making the case for this deal to members of Congress and our staffs,” Mr. Franken said on Thursday, Ars Technica reported. “But I’ve also heard from over 100,000 consumers who oppose this deal, and I think their voices need to be heard, too.”
Ultimately, it will be the FCC that either allows the merger to go through or not, but Comcast PAC knows that the senators wield tremendous clout.
“Congressional reaction will tend to influence how the agencies react,” wrote Harold Feld, senior VP of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, Ars Technica reported.