Approximately 33% of freshman Congressmen in the 112th congressional session received donations from either Verizon, AT&T or both this campaign season, as the telecommunications carriers gear up for a big fight on net neutrality.
Groups on both sides of the Internet regulation issue have made a great number of lobbying contacts to Congressmen and FCC officials in anticipation of the Dec. 21 meeting to address regulation strategy. Google and Comcast were among other big donors, though their donation strategies differed from those of Verizon and AT&T, who supported candidates with little discretion at all, even, in some cases, opponents in the same race. Google’s support, for instance, was only for candidates with prior political experience, while Comcast targeted veterans it considers key players in the net neutrality battle.
The efforts are in response to FCC regulation over broadband access, following a decision by the DC Court of Appeals last spring which ruled the agency does not have the authority to regulate Internet service providers’ interference with web access. Despite the ruling, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is expected to outline his new broadband plan Wednesday.
In response to challenges to his authority to act on the issue in light of the court ruling by ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and a top member of its Internet subcommittee, Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) the New York Times reports that Genachowski “believes he has the legal authority to act because he argues that his plan would help spread broadband service more widely across the country, a priority that Congress has established as one of the F.C.C.’s mandates.”