AT&T classily buying merger support from churches, charities

Wireless carrier donates to organizations, which then urge FCC to approve T-Mobile deal

AT&T is pulling out all the stops in its public campaign to pressure federal anti-trust regulators into approving its $39 billion purchase of rival T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom.

Not only is the wireless carrier lining up politicians and unions to support the deal, it's got some churches and charities on board!

You can understand why politicians and telecommunications unions are behind the deal -- there's something in it for them (political contributions and jobs). But the fact that AT&T was able to persuade some churches and charities to support the merger just on the merits alone, well that's really impress-- oh, wait.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, "at least two-dozen charities ... were recipients of AT&T’s largesse and have written in support of the T-Mobile buyout, which will cut the number of national wireless companies from four to three."

For example, the investigative journalism organization said, the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter and clinic in Louisiana, received a $50,000 donation from AT&T in January. In June, clinic director Rev. R. Henry Martin, wrote to Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, “It might seem like an out-of-place endorsement, but I am writing today in order to convey our support for the AT&T/T-Mobile merger.”

It might indeed. But that didn't stop Rev. Martin, because he was on a mission from God and Randall Stephenson. From CPI:

“People often call on God to help the outcasts and downtrodden that walk among us,” Martin wrote to the FCC. “Sometimes, however, it is our responsibility to take matters into our own hands. Please support this merger.”

And help the downtrodden AT&T? Apparently the telecommunications giant is suffering the same fate as America's unfairly maligned ultra-wealthy. They just can't catch a break!

The "downtrodden" to whom Martin likely was referring are the rural and poor communities that AT&T claims won't get wireless broadband service without the T-Mobile deal being approved.

Of course, Martin is just spouting AT&T talking points. He has no idea whether the company's acquisition of T-Mobile will extend wireless broadband to those communities. But he does know his organization got $50,000 from AT&T this year, and probably won't be getting any money from the Justice Department, which has filed an antitrust lawsuit to block the deal.

According to CPI, AT&T didn't respond to requests for comment. Probably because the telco was at church.

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