AT&T Wheel Of Lobbying Astroturf Fortune Lands On 'Latinos'

from the ah,-the-latinos dept

A few years back, we discussed an article by Declan McCullagh, which laid out some of the sneakier tactics of lobbyist groups to pressure the government to support some position using letterhead from various special interest groups:
"You go down the Latino people, the deaf people, the farmers, and choose them.... You say, 'I can't use this one--I already used them last time...' We had their letterhead. We'd just write the letter. We'd fax it to them and tell them, 'You're in favor of this.'"
It looks like AT&T's lobbyists went through the list and they're back around to the top with the "Latino people." Suddenly, and for no clear reason, The Hispanic Institute and the Latino Coaltion have decided that supporting the merger of AT&T with T-Mobile is of utmost importance to them. They've put out statements with such nonsensical claims like:
The proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile holds great promise for all Americans, and especially those of Hispanic heritage.
What's in it for these groups? Money, mainly:
One DC insider informs us that rumblings on K Street suggest AT&T had called every civil rights group in the United States for support within fifteen minutes of the deal being announced. Fearful of losing AT&T donations -- most of these groups quickly got to parroting prepared AT&T statements, unconcerned about the actual impact of a T-Mobile deal. Getting funding for a new events center apparently dulls any ethical pangs felt using your organization as a hired stage prop.
It's really difficult not to be cynical when you see this kind of thing playing out. What's really depressing is that no matter how many times this rather obvious practice is exposed, it just keeps on happening.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Paul Alan Levy (profile), Apr 15th, 2011 @ 3:10pm

    And that is why is is better not to take corporate money at all

    Public Citizen has not taken a position on this merger, but once thing we do here is follow a very strict rule that we simply do not take contributions from companies (or, indeed, from the government, or from unions). So, for example, although we often have legal positions that Google likes (such as on keyword advertising), when we want to take a position adverse to Google we don't have to think about it for a moment. And when we do take a position that Google likes, nobody can suggest that it is because we are bought and paid for by Google (just to take one example of a company that spreads its money around widely in the non-profit sector).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Apr 15th, 2011 @ 3:18pm

    To AT&T, et al:

    There seems to have been an issue at the printers. They printed more of my letterhead than I had requested them to. I am sorry to announce that I need some way of removing this superfluous stationary and would be much obliged if you can take it off my hands. I would be more than willing to accept a donation from you on behalf of the printers to help them pay the extra expense their mistake has caused them. If you find yourself in need of extra letterhead, I would be happy to supply it for you.

    Thank you for your time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Nicedoggy, Apr 15th, 2011 @ 3:29pm

    People should organize the key to change things in politics is to follow people who succeeded doing it and we have some examples like the Koizumi children and the Tea Party(Yeah I know they are crazy).

    We decide the things we want and put the people in place, we also make a list of appointed positions that need change and elect people who will do those things.

    And there is just 2 things people need:

    - A trusty organization.
    - The tool to identify the issues people can agree and want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    James Carmichael, Apr 15th, 2011 @ 4:23pm

    So the problem here isn't that 'the government is broken' or 'corporations are sneaky', but rather 'humans are selfish, greedy hoarding machines'.

    Solution: geez, I dunno... kill all humans, Terminator style?

    It's a shame that these things happen. It's a shame that most people will brush this story off without really thinking about it. It's a shame that people who really need to read this story, won't.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Nicedoggy, Apr 15th, 2011 @ 5:32pm

    Re:

    Just to make it clear there are position in the government that are not subject to elections where people have no say who goes there, those positions are appointed by representatives, those positions are what permit one police to transfer to another administration with little to no oversight and that needs urgent attention from the people, because it is the hidden power, presidents and senators are just punching bags for the public they are not that important, they don't make decisions on their own, they get advise from those unelected positions that have the power to influence and determine polices.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    abc gum, Apr 16th, 2011 @ 7:14am

    Astroturf

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

    It's where all the marketing budget goes

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2011 @ 1:53pm

    Re: And that is why is is better not to take corporate money at all

    If Google participated in an astroturfing campaign like this one, they would get in all sorts of anti-trust related trouble. At least the mere suspicion of them doing this would get them investigated. But when AT&T does it, bureaucrats look the other way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2011 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: And that is why is is better not to take corporate money at all

    Wonder why?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    hwertz, Apr 17th, 2011 @ 11:24am

    3rd party

    Agreed with nicedoggy. But, ultimately what is needed is to break the effective single party system. As much as Dems and Reps argue, they both favor large, intrusive, expensive gov't (arguing over details of what they should spend the money the gov't doesn't have on). With 3 or more parties, and no clear majority, these politicians must have true discussion and agreement on topics, not rhetoric blaming problems on "the other party".

     

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  10.  
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    Jay (profile), Apr 17th, 2011 @ 9:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: And that is why is is better not to take corporate money at all

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Jose_X, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 9:05pm

    Re: And that is why is is better not to take corporate money at all

    Thanks for bringing the point up and for the policy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    biffula, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 11:00am

    eye opening

    Politicians continual need to add money to their and their parties coffers will keep special interests pulling these types of shenanigans for eternity. We need to go to a type of system like the British. One month of campaigning and that's it. But try to pass a law like this in the U.S. and it will only get shot down as unconstitutional. Sigh.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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