Telecom Leaders Open Wallets for Clinton

The Associated Press
Friday, May 4, 2007; 2:33 PM

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Rodham Clinton's fundraising machine is working its magic among employees of the nation's biggest telecommunications companies, despite her support for an industry-unfriendly legislative initiative.

The New York senator and Democratic presidential candidate was the top recipient of funds from employees of AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner through the first quarter of 2007. John McCain, who holds a senior position on the Senate committee that oversees the telecom industry, lagged far behind.

Overall, employees of the nation's telecommunications and cable television companies contributed $119,250 to Clinton's campaign. McCain took in $79,300, an analysis of Federal Election Commission records showed.

Clinton and fellow Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois are co-sponsors of a bill that would require large Internet providers to treat all traffic equally. The "network neutrality" bill is anathema to AT&T and Verizon, who see it as unnecessary government regulation of their networks.

Early trends show company employees are not afraid to make contributions that may be at odds with their employers' legislative agendas and with the views of top executives.

AT&T Chairman and CEO Edward Whitacre Jr., for example, gave $2,300 to McCain's primary campaign. But his employees ponied up $13,950 to Clinton, $9,500 to Obama and only $5,100 to McCain.

McCain, normally a contribution magnet for telecommunications companies, is a current member and former chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Verizon's support of Clinton is even greater, which makes sense, given the company's position as New York's primary telephone company and Clinton's status as the home-state senator.

Of $59,300 in contributions from Verizon employees, $20,700 went to Clinton, $13,350 went to Obama and $11,750 went to McCain.

Verizon chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg gave $2,300 to Clinton's primary campaign and $2,100 to McCain's.

In the 2004 campaign, Seidenberg became a "Pioneer" for President Bush's re-election campaign by raising at least $100,000. Whitacre made the "Ranger" list by collecting at least $200,000 for Bush. Peter Davidson, a senior vice president at Verizon, also was a Pioneer. He gave $1,000 to McCain.

Employees of Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable television provider, are especially fond of Clinton, giving her $30,600 out of $64,000 in total contributions.

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