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.