In 2005, a chief executive of SBC Communications said that Google and Yahoo were “nuts” for expecting free use of SBC's Internet network to deliver their content. Edward Whitacre, who would later go on to be CEO of AT&T, told BusinessWeek that websites should have to pay telecommunications companies to use their Internet services to reach customers. “Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain’t going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it,” said the longtime donor to his company's political action committees.
The Internet was still young, YouTube had just launched, Facebook was barely a year old, and MySpace's golden years were still roaring—it was a different place. At that time, new questions began to emerge about Internet access fairness and more specifically whether websites should have to pay for the use of broadband networks owned by telecommunications companies. In the years prior, the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commissions declined to formally implement rules that would create so-called “net neutrality”. Foreshadowing the policy fights that would define the Internet in the decade following, Democrats pushed back arguing that such rules should be codified.
Enter the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Bill of 2006. Heavily boosted by telecom giants like AT&T and Verizon, this legislation was meant to be an overhaul of the landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996. The bill sought to make it easier for telecom companies to offer cable TV services by replacing local franchise boards with a national system managed by the FCC. Together with extensive regulatory capture, the telecom industry could easily write its own rules on how much they were allowed to charge consumers for access to information. To counter the telecom industry's growing influence, from then-Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced an amendment that would have formally added the same net neutrality rules the FCC rejected.
We could have had a different Internet, but powerful corporations and the politicians they bankroll stood in the way of that—Rick Larsen included.
As the COVID-19 crisis has laid bare, access to the Internet is vital for education, employment, and entertainment. While the United Nations says access to the Internet is a human right, here in America people still must pay some of the highest Internet Service Provider costs in the world. Jason Call has demanded that the Internet be declared a public utility and that it should be free to all, recognizing Internet access as a fundamental human right and indispensable to our modern world. The incumbent, on the other hand, has never endorsed such an idea and is still trapped in the mindset that giant telecom corporations are somehow acting in the interest of working class families.
As long as Big Tech and the telecom industry keep forking over thousands of dollars to Rick Larsen's campaigns, he will continue to not challenge their power and demand they be regulated like a public utility or subject to far stricter oversight. Below we will find the 152 contributions from 12 corporations and one industry association totaling $240,200 given to Rick Larsen from Big Tech and Telecom over the course of his career.
In 2006, the U.S. Telecom Association contributed once to Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen for a total of $1,000. (💰)
FCC sued by broadband companies over net neutrality rules
“U.S. broadband providers on Monday filed lawsuits against the Federal Communications Commission’s recently approved net neutrality rules, launching what is a expected to be a series of legal challenges.
Broadband industry trade group USTelecom filed a lawsuit against the FCC in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which has in the past twice rejected the FCC’s net neutrality regulations.
The group argues the new rules are ‘arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion’ and violate various laws, regulations and rulemaking procedures.” — Reuters (March 23, 2015)
Between 2003 and 2006, Bellsouth contributed four times to Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen for a total of $3,000. (💰💰💰)
Congressional Gift Limits Violated, Report Says
“More than 80 members of Congress and Capitol Hill aides are listed as having accepted entertainment from lobbyists for BellSouth Corp. at levels that appear to exceed congressional gift limits, according to a document produced by the company's Washington office.
The document, obtained from an employee of the telecommunications firm who said she was disturbed by the pattern, sheds light on one of the capital's worst-kept secrets: Congressional gift restrictions are frequently ignored.
The BellSouth records show that the firm's lobbyists were regularly out on the town hosting people they are paid to influence with drinks and dinner at Washington's priciest restaurants. Some of the guests feasted so often and so well that they apparently toted up bills several times larger than they are allowed to accept.” —
Between 2008 and 2010, Dell contributed three times to Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen for a total of $4,500. (💰💰💰💰💵)
Billionaires in Davos hate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 70% tax on the rich
“[Michael] Dell, founder and head of Dell Technologies, first responded by saying he’s more comfortable allocating significant resources through his private foundation than handing over that money to the government. But then he answered more directly.
‘No, I am not supportive of that, and I don’t think it would help the growth of the U.S. economy,’ he said in response to questions from The Washington Post.
When Dell was asked to explain why he thinks that, he said, ‘Name a country where that’s worked — ever.’
Co-panelist and MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson jumped in to offer an answer: ‘the United States.’” — The Washington Post (January 23, 2019)
Since 2013, Google has contributed six times to Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen for a total of $8,000. (💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰)
Google is tech’s top spender on lobbying — Facebook and Amazon are also at record levels
“As the biggest U.S. technology companies face increasing scrutiny from regulators related to privacy practices and market control, they’re spending a lot more money to try and influence lawmakers. No company in America is pouring more money into those efforts than Google.
[In 2018], the company spent $21.7 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. For two straight years, it’s been the top corporate spender, outranking traditional front-runners like [Larsen donor] Boeing and [Larsen donor] AT&T. [Larsen donor] Amazon and Facebook also reached record levels of lobbying expenditures in 2018” — CNBC (June 9, 2019)
Since 2008, T-Mobile has contributed nine times to Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen for a total of $13,000. (💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰)
T-Mobile admits it spent $195,000 on Trump’s hotel while lobbying for Sprint merger
“Over ten months, T-Mobile spent a total of $195,000 at the Trump hotel, it detailed in a letter to Congress Democrats last month that was seen by The Washington Post.
Last April, T-Mobile announced it was merging with Sprint. But for the merger to go through, it still needs the Trump administration to give its approval, as well as the Federal Communications Commission. In January, The Washington Post found that just a day after the merger was announced, the carrier booked nine T-Mobile executives to stay at Trump’s hotel. While at the hotel, the executives wore bright magenta shirts with the company logo.” — The Verge (March 9, 2019)
Since 2010, Verizon has contributed ten times to Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen for a total of $13,000. (💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰)
Verizon has a new strategy to undermine online privacy and net neutrality
“Verizon is still worried that states might restrict how Verizon can use customer data. ‘[L]egislative bodies in nearly 30 states—including California, New York, and Washington—have considered adopting privacy laws aimed at ISPs in response to Congress’s repudiation of the Commission’s privacy rules,’ Verizon wrote.”
“It's no surprise that Verizon opposes net neutrality and privacy rules (despite the carrier claiming otherwise), and the FCC's current majority generally agrees with Verizon when it comes to regulation of Internet providers.” — Ars Technica (October 31, 2017)
Between 2004 and 2018, Intel contributed eleven times to Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen for a total of $16,500. (💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💵)
Qualcomm, Intel, and others speak out against Title II net neutrality
“Today, though, 60 tech companies, including Intel, IBM, and Qualcomm, have signed a letter opposing reclassifying broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — a solution that's favored by many of net neutrality's supporters and President Barack Obama himself. The letter is addressed to members of Congress and the FCC, and it warns that this stricter regulation would stop companies from investing in broadband.” — The Verge (December 10, 2014)
Between 2003 and 2010, Qwest contributed twelve times to Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen for a total of $17,000. (💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰)
Shady deal between Qwest and Enron?
“Enron and telecommunications giant Qwest Communications struck a deal last fall to swap fiber optic network capacity and services at exaggerated prices in an effort to improve each company's financial picture, executives close to the deal said this week.
Details of the deal, which were not announced at the time but have been disclosed in recent filings in Enron's bankruptcy case, indicate that the two companies raced to complete the transaction as the third quarter was ending in September. Enron and Qwest valued the transaction at more than $500 million, but analysts said the timing and the valuation would be hard to justify because by last fall a glut of fiber optic capacity had sent network prices plummeting.” — Deseret News (March 30, 2002)
Between 2003 and 2016, Hewlett-Packard contributed thirteen times to Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen for a total of $20,500. (💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💵)
Fiorina opposes Net neutrality
“California GOP Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina this week staked out her spot opposing tough Net neutrality rules.
The former Hewlett-Packard CEO and telecommunications industry executive told POLITICO she opposes any federal requirement that Internet providers treat all Web traffic equally.” — POLITICO (August 27, 2010)
Since 2007, Comcast has contributed fifteen times to Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen for a total of $25,500. (💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💵)
Comcast Wants You to Think It Supports Net Neutrality While It Pushes for Net Neutrality to Be Destroyed
“That Comcast’s language is changing is one reason to distrust its promises regarding net neutrality, but its track record is an even bigger one. The company has been caught red-handed lying about its traffic discrimination in the past. In 2007, for example, when Comcast was found intermittently blocking users’ ability to use BitTorrent, the company made numerous false claims about its network interference before finally admitting its bad behavior and halting the disruptions.” — Slate (November 28, 2017)
Since 2004, AT&T has contributed sixteen times to Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen for a total of $27,700. (💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💵)
AT&T’s ‘support’ for net neutrality means tricking customers to fight against it
“But while that page might look like other pro-net neutrality sites at first glance, it’s far from it. AT&T is carefully wording around the fact that it’s opposed to the net neutrality order that activists are fighting for. What’s worse: it’s trying to get people to send an email to legislators and the FCC that pushes its own agenda, while masquerading as something in support of the same cause yesterday’s protest was about.” — The Verge (July 13, 2017)
Since 2005, Amazon has contributed fifteen times to Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen for a total of $30,000. (💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰)
Amazon gives $1M to group seeking to upend Seattle City Council in upcoming election
“Amazon donated the funds to the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, The Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE). The company donated $400,000 to CASE earlier this year and $50,000 in September 2018. CASE has made endorsements for each of the City Council positions, selecting candidates seen as more business-friendly than their opponents. Just one endorsement is for an incumbent; the rest of CASE’s picks would be new faces on the council.
The contribution announced today more than doubles Amazon’s commitment and makes it the top spender on Seattle elections this year by far.” — GeekWire (October 15, 2019)
Sincd 2003, Microsoft has contributed thirty-seven times to Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen for a total of $60,500. (💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰 💵)
How Microsoft Conquered Washington By spending lots of money--of course--but also by doing lots of creative lobbying you don't know about.
“To achieve its aims, Microsoft has done many of the things you'd expect. After making some serious missteps in late 1998 and early 1999 (such as trying to deprive the Justice Department of antitrust funding), the company quickly found its footing. It now has 15 high-powered government affairs staffers led by Krumholtz in downtown Washington--three times more than in the average corporation's D.C. lobbying shop--and dozens more in every major state. It retained a dream team of outside federal lobbyists, including Haley Barbour, the former Republican Party chairman, and Jack Quinn, former White House counsel to President Clinton. It began contributing heavily to right-wing, free-market think tanks, such as the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation. And Microsoft and its employees gave a whopping $4.6 million to federal candidates and parties, Republican and Democrat alike, in the 2000 election--more money than any other company but AT&T and more than double that of its biggest rival, AOL Time Warner.” — CNN (April 29, 2002)
Can we trust Rick Larsen to fight for a publicly-owned, free Internet with privacy protections?
Can we trust him to take on the deep pockets of Silicon Valley—while taking tens of thousands of dollars from them?
Can we trust him to take on monopolistic Internet Service Providers—while taking tens of thousands of dollars from them?
Can we trust him to take on Big Telecom who control the airwaves—while taking tens of thousands of dollars from them?