AT&T Hopes You'll Ignore It Routinely Finances Terrible Politicians Doing Terrible Things

from the do-not-pass-go,-do-not-collect-$200 dept

After the idiotic and dangerous events of January 6, you might recall how corporations like AT&T and Comcast proclaimed they’d paused donations to any politicians behind the clumsy, violent attempt to, you know, dismantle functioning democracy. But, of course, this was mostly a show; the companies continued to donate money to those same politicians via their lobbying and policy umbrella orgs. Then, once the public was adequately distracted by the next big scandal du jour, quickly got back to work funding those same politicians again with zero meaningful penalty.

Now AT&T’s making headlines once again, this time for funding the politicians behind Texas’ terrible anti-abortion law. In addition to the way the law will harm women (particularly low income women and women of color), we’ve noted the law is an inherent mess that encourages vigilantism, likely opening the door to all kinds of additional problems in numerous other policy sectors. That’s before you get to the problems with the Supreme Court’s chickenshit middle of the night ruling that appears to ignore the very foundations of the law itself.

AT&T being AT&T, the company has been busy pushing all kinds of marketing missives about its breathless support for women, while simultaneously throwing giant wads of cash at politicians for whom that hasn’t been much of a priority. The press hasn’t been too bothered by this, leaving it to independent newsletter writers like Judd Legum to call AT&T out:

Whenever this sort of thing happens, AT&T attempts to turtle its way through it, usually by refusing to comment and hoping the scandal passes overhead. But to his credit, HBO’s John Oliver this week wasn’t having it, and managed to squeeze at least a comment out of his parent company (technically his soon to be ex-parent company thanks to the looming Discovery spinoff). After being prodded by Oliver, this is what AT&T came up with after weeks of total radio silence:

“AT&T has never taken a stance on abortion. Employee PAC contributions to Texas legislators went to both supporters and opponents of the Texas legislation.”

As Oliver was quick to point out, not taking a stance on this immeasurably shitty law is taking a stance (oh hey Elon didn’t see you standing there), especially if you’re still happily funding the politicians behind it:

“Not taking a stance on this issue right now is taking a stance,? Oliver said. ?And both-siding abortion isn?t really the PR slam dunk that that they seem to think it is. Although it is certainly on brand for them. AT&T clearly likes their public statements the same way that they like their cell signal ? hilariously f-cking weak.”

You can find the full segment here:

On one hand it’s a great thing that an independent newsletter and a satirist are holding a corporation to account for funding terrible people pushing terrible, harmful legislation. On the flip side it’s a testament to the timidity of the mainstream press that this sort of stuff routinely has to fall to independent newsletters and a satirist in the first place. Corporations routinely get to talk out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to supporting terrible politicians and terrible policies, and the fact AT&T was able to remain totally quiet for a month without much media scrutiny makes it abundantly clear why.

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Companies: at&t

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Comments on “AT&T Hopes You'll Ignore It Routinely Finances Terrible Politicians Doing Terrible Things”

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Anonymous Coward says:

As Oliver was quick to point out, not taking a stance on this immeasurably shitty law is taking a stance (oh hey Elon didn’t see you standing there), especially if you’re still happily funding the politicians behind it:

Did you know, the link in that quote points to a 2019 story about Georgia’s abortion ban, not Texas’?

Close, but no cigar.

Koby (profile) says:

Heads I Win

Companies that do lobbying don’t want to take sides. The best way to rig the game is to give money to both sides, so that it doesn’t matter who wins the next election.

Interestingly, if Democrats can successfully stop telecom companies from donationing to Republicans, then the best bet for ending corporate welfare and regional monopolies will be to support Texas style Republicans. I’d love to see this happen, simply on the basis that we could watch some peoples’ heads explode.

Anonymous Coward says:

Companies that do lobbying don’t want to take sides….

This is the standard bribery technique where bribery is illegal: give inconsequential sums to both sides, UNTIL one congressman does something inimical to AT&T. THEN, on the NEXT election (or the next close election) pour OODLES of money on the other side. All perfectly legal, and there is never a pro quid quo, so no possible question of illegal bribery. But it has the same effect.

It is extremely silly to distort that evil (but legal) behavior into a narrative of AT&T supporting, or not supporting, any of the myriads of issues that any candidate might support. AT&T is a one-issue contributor, and all other issues simply do not matter to them. And that is universal for large companies. It’s only the family-owned medium-sized businesses (Ben/Jerry, Hobby Lobby) that take what they might conceive to be moral stances.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

While corporations are people and all of that shit…
Why do we allow a few people to demand the right to control what other people do?

If I passed a law outlawing evangelical christianty from my state, I’d be in the middle of a firestorm and constitutional lawsuits.

But somehow these same evangelicals can demand laws giving them final say over what someone else can so with their life, and that’s okay??

They got SCOTUS to hear their cases about muhrights and not being restricted on numbers or mask wearing in churches, but SCOTUS dodges another Constitutional rights case because???

If you don’t approve of a abortion, good for you.
Don’t have one, do not have sex that can result in offspring.
But you do not have a right to tell others no, refuse to allow the teaching about how babies are made, how to avoid being pregnant, force a child to have her daddies baby, force a woman to carry a rapists baby, all while demanding your tax dollars don’t pay for helping these children you demanded be born.

Corporations do not care about these issues, they care about getting money into the hands of elected officials so they can call those favors in when they need another law to keep anyone from challenging their monopoly or forcing them to live up to their word.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think att gives donations to any politican who
will help it maintain the status quo, eg mega mergers, lack of competition in broadband and mobile services to the point where millions of americans have no acess to fast broadband .
Broadband is no longer a luxury, its used by millions to work from home and also for students to study online and stay safe in a pandemic. Meanwhile the situation can’t improve until Biden appoints new officials to the fcc

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Single issue voters

people lack the ability understand some people/companies are interested in one or two issues over all others.

Some are willing to ignore all the other baggage if it gets the important things (to them) addressed.

Voting for someone or something (and funding them) based on one issue doesn’t equate to direct support for other issues. A secondary byproduct of the action, yes. But not personal direct support.

All said I still dislike AT$T but that’s because of their poor services.

Uh, no.

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