Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lobbying Lite

Fifty executives of AT&T and Verizon have fallen in love with Sen. Jay Rockefeller this year, contributing more than $42,000 to his campaign fund, ten times what they gave him in the previous five years.

These wet kisses from the telecommunications folks may raise suspicion they are motivated by his chairmanship of the Senate Intelligence Committee and its recommendations about telephone eavesdropping and extending retroactive immunity to carriers that participated in the program President Bush secretly approved after 9/11.

Not so, say all involved. “Any suggestion that Senator Rockefeller would make policy decisions based on campaign contributions is patently false,” says his spokesperson. “Many AT&T executives,” says a company flack, “work with the leaders of both the House and Senate Commerce Committees on a daily basis and have come to know them over the years.”

Lying about lobbying is such a hallowed tradition that it goes back into the mists of time. Almost half a century ago, when I was on the board of directors of the Magazine Publishers Association I received a burn-this letter about making personal contributions to politicians I never heard of who were members of the committees that decided postal rates.

As an editor among all those publishers, I declined to follow orders, but then again, I wasn’t on the board long enough to learn how to get reimbursed for such voluntary largesse.

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