Will Comcast's political ties help it earn regulatory approval for its purchase of Time Warner Cable? It can't hurt.
Those that opposed Comcast's big merger with NBCU were pretty stunned when the deal was approved three years ago. They shouldn't have been. Every time Comcast CEO Brian Roberts appeared before a hearing, it was practically a love fest. It was obvious he and the firm have a lot of friends in high places at the center of policymaking.
Roberts has played the game well—or rather, he's spent well, which is how you play the game in Washington. He's held fundraisers for Obama, bundling more than $500,000 for his re-election and sits on the President's jobs council.
Roberts' front man in Washington, the very affable evp David Cohen, is plugged in and also a big financial contributor to the Democrats. He also bundled $500,000 for Obama's re-election campaign. The night before the merger with Time Warner Cable was announced, Cohen and his wife attended the state dinner for the president of France. Talk about timing!
Last year alone, Comcast spent more than $18.8 million on lobbying to influence issues like net neutrality, retransmission consent, and other cable laws, making it the seventh largest spender, per the Center for Responsive Politics.
For 2014, Comcast has contributed to more than $1.18 million to the campaigns of the most influential Congressional leaders, per Open Secrets. Recipients have included House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), as well as critical lawmakers on the commerce committees with jurisdiction over communications laws and the Federal Communications Commission, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the subcommittee on communications and technology.
Comcast's 100-strong lobby team also has one of the deepest benches, staffed with a few insiders that know their way around regulatory hurdles. Only months after the Federal Communications Commission approved with conditions, the NBCU deal, commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, a Republican, joined NBCU's Washington office.
While that doesn't mean Comcast can coast, at the very least, it will be able to get in the door to make its pitch.