Heavy with $963,275 in AT&T donations, lawmakers push for T-Mobile merger approval

The Department of Justice recently filed a lawsuit against AT&T in an effort to block its planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA, but that has not stopped 100 lawmakers from signing a letter pushing the government to settle the suit and approve the merger. Interestingly, 99 of the House Republicans who signed the letter have accepted political donations from employees of AT&T within the last two years, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. A total of $963,275 had been donated to these lawmakers, according to the advocacy group Public Knowledge. The donations are still coming in, too. According to Bloomberg, Pete Olson, who already signed the letter, is holding a “Telecommunications Industry Lunch” on Thursday that is “backed by AT&T lobbyists.” Read on for more.

Those attending the lunch can reportedly choose to contribute $500, $1,000 or $2,500 to Olson’s campaign for a Congress seat. An Olson spokesperson said AT&T has not sponsored the event, however, and that AT&T is a supporter of his campaign because the company “[employs] thousands of people in the State of Texas.” The spokesman continued, “This letter simply urges the President to focus on creating jobs in America and bringing other jobs back from overseas to further strengthen our economic recovery.”

AT&T has long argued the merger will help create jobs, but the U.S. government has argued it will “remove a significant competitive force” from the U.S. wireless market. “This is why AT&T is so effective on Capitol Hill,” Public Citizen government affairs lobbyist Craig Holman told Bloomberg. “The game isn’t just lobbying activity, it’s making sure there’s an extensive fundraising apparatus that goes on full time. That’s exactly what played out here.” Bloomberg’s report names several other Democrats and Republicans who have accepted campaign contributions from AT&T and who have sent letters to the FCC and the Department of Justice asking for briefings or urging for the deal to be approved.

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