“Absolutely the First Amendment issue of our time”
– Senator Al Franken
The Federal Communications Commission will soon issue its new rules on net neutrality which will prevent large telecommunications corporations from regulating access to the internet by allowing some customers to get better, faster, and/or more reliable access through pricing arrangements or other deals. President Obama has come out strongly in favor of net neutrality rules as have most progressive groups and Democratic lawmakers.
Republicans, of course, with their ties to Big Business, are decidedly NOT in favor of net neutrality. So, as a preemptive move, they recently introduced legislation to restrict the ability of the FCC to regulate telcomm’s ability to control access to the internet in favor of the highest bidders. The authors of this faux net neutrality bill are Fred Upton from Michigan and Greg Walden from Oregon. And, as it turns out, the two of them are among the largest recipients of telcomm campaign donations in America.
I know. You’re shocked.
Two of the architects of the Republican plan — Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan and Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon — received more money from cable-industry interests than almost any other members of Congress, campaign finance records show.
Comcast Corporation tops the list of contributors to Upton’s most recent re-election bid, according to Washington-based nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, which compiles campaign data on its Open Secrets website. The data shows Upton received $44,500 from Comcast-related donors, including employees of the company and its political action committee. Meanwhile, records from the Federal Election Commission show that no fewer than 15 senior Comcast executives contributed $1,000 or more to Upton’s 2014 campaign.
Even for Comcast, a sophisticated lobbying entity known for spreading bipartisan cash around Washington, that’s a high number. Of all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Upton ranked No. 4 on the Comcast recipient list, CRP data for 2014 shows. No. 3 on the list was Walden, a coauthor of the draft legislation, who received $47,250 from Comcast-related donors during the most recent election cycle. […]
In terms of receiving campaign donations from cable-industry interests, Upton and Walden are nearly unmatched. A May 2014 report from MapLight — a nonprofit research firm based in Berkeley, California, that tracks money’s influence on politics — showed both congressmen were among the top five recipients of cable-industry interests, Upton at No. 4 with $65,000 and Walden at No. 1 with $109,250.
And it isn’t just Comcast. Donors with an interest in Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. gave $35,200 and $20,000, respectively, to Upton’s most recent campaign. Both companies have voiced strong opposition to reclassifying broadband as a utility, which would impose stricter relations on providers.
The idea of the “bought and paid for” politician is beyond a cliché at this point. But Upton and Walden are so blatant about it that it’s nearly criminal.
Several groups are working to fight this crass attempt to kneecap true net neutrality. BattleForTheNet.com has a website that connects you to your member of Congress to urge them to vote against the Upton/Walden bill HERE. The Free Press Action Fund has one as well HERE.