Thursday, August 31, 2006

AT&T not happy with all legislators

AT&T Shuns Four in Assembly
What did Jackie Goldberg, Simon Salinas, Joe Nation and Jay LaSuer ever do to AT&T? Every other Assemblymember got a campaign contribution this legislative session from the phone giant that steamrolled through the Capitol this year with a bill to deregulate the cable tv/video services industry. But these four Assemblymembers got nothing. All told, AT&T donated to 76 of the 80 Assemblymembers who will vote on their bill by week’s end. Surprise, surprise the bill passed with a 77-0 vote when the Assembly first debated it earlier this year.

AT&T covered its bases on the Senate as well, passing out cash to every Senator except Torlakson, Scott, Kuehl and Escutia in 2005-2006. AT&T did make sure to keep Senator Escutia, chair of the Senate Utilities Committee, in the loop, spending $1200 to send her and her family to a Lakers game. The main, and possibly only, thing that these politicians seem to have in common is that they are all termed out and do not have political committees for AT&T to donate to (except for La Suer — boy did he miss a memo).

With at least 113 of 120 lawmakers getting cash or gifts from AT&T, and Governor Schwarzenegger sitting with more than a quarter million from AT&T (and its corporate partner SBC), there’s no chance Californians will get a real debate on the issue in these final days of the Legislature or when the Gov sits down for the bill signing ceremony. Add to the individual donations a couple of hundred grand from AT&T to the Democratic and Republican parties over the past two years and it’s easy to understand why this bill has not found a single opponent in either house.

Maybe, just to give the regular Californians who actually pay for cable a shot at a fair hearing, the 113 politicians with dirty money in their pockets should sit this vote out and let the other seven decide the fate of the bill. The only other option is to pass Prop 89 so that lawmakers could come to this decision with a clear mind and a clean pocket.