If the lobbying disclosure reports they filed for the first quarter of this year are any indication, AT&T and T-Mobile are ready to empty out their piggy banks if that's what it takes to get AT&T's $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile cleared by regulators and Congress. By the end of the regulatory review process, the two telecom companies could make what Comcast and NBCU spent to grease the skids for their own deal look like chump change.
AT&T spent $6.8 million on lobbying during the quarter that just ended, up 15 percent over the same time period last year, according to a disclosure report it filed Thursday. T-Mobile's own lobbying expenditures, meanwhile, went up 32 percent over last year, to $690,000.
It is possible, of course, that not all of the increase is related to the deal, especially since it was only announced on March 20. But AT&T was reportedly in talks with current T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom for at least three months before that, so it's likely that the companies had been gearing up for a tough regulatory process for some time.
Not to be left out, Sprint, which was itself in the running to acquire T-Mobile and is now leading the charge against the sale, is also opening its pocketbook, hiring a number of lobbying firms, including Thorsen French Advocacy, Franklin Square Group, and The Fritts Group.