Quoted: on AT&T’s political influence

“I know people love to try to create that impression … but the reality is, that’s not the way things happen. People give money because of whatever reasons motivate them, and we evaluate legislation regardless. … I cannot think of anything they’ve asked me to do.”

Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles, says AT&T’s lobbying — the telecom giant once paid for him to watch Game 2 of the 2009 NBA Finals, although he says he doesn’t remember that — doesn’t earn it special treatment in the California Legislature. The Los Angeles Times reports that for the past seven years, AT&T has been the single largest corporate spender on lobbying in the state. Among other regulatory efforts  the LAT lists as having been affected: ending “cramming” fraudulent charges on cell-phone bills, ending charges for having an unlisted number, an effort to phase out phone books. (AT&T recently sold most of its stake in its Yellow Pages business, though.) The LAT also says frequent victories for AT&T via the California Public Utilities Commission have helped the company “rebuild itself into a telecom behemoth almost 30 years after it was split apart in the wake of a federal antitrust case.” But at least a couple of reports during AT&T’s failed bid for wireless provider T-Mobile said California’s PUC was a particularly tough reviewer of the proposed merger. (See Quoted: on California as source of static in AT&T’s T-Mobile buy.)


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