Twenty-three political action committees sponsored by the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. in the 1980 federal elections together collected and spent more than twice as much money as did the PAC's of any other U.S. corporation, government records show.
In the two-year election cycle ended last Dec. 31, AT&T and nearly all of its subsidiaries and affiliates across the country reported that their PAC's raised $990,467 from stockholders, officers, directors, and mid-level and professional employes. They made total outlays of $895,437, including contributions to candidates of $652,679.
The runner-up in income and outgo was LTV Corp., a Dallas-based conglomerate and defense contractor. Its six PACs listed a combined $491,282 in gross receipts and $446,519 in gross expenditures. Ranking second in contributions to House, Senate, and presidential candidates were the eight units of Dow Chemical Co.; they gave a combined $304,138.
The corporate rankings resulting from combining the PAC figures of parent companies and their affiliates differ from those for parent firms alone, according to Federal Election Commission records. On a single-corporation basis, none of the 23 AT&T PACs made any of the three top-10 lists. The PAC of Winn-Dixie Stores, the fifth-largest grocery chain, led in receipts, with $400,844, and in contributions to candidates, with $254,350.
The AT&T data became available at a time when the future of the company -- the world's largest -- is tied closely to Capitol Hill.
Last year, AT&T worked to encourage the House to pass a bill that would have written a restructuring of the company into law. The bill died after members of the House Judiciary Committee said they were concerned that it could undermine the Justice Department's ongoing antitrust suit against AT&T.
In that case, currently being heard here by U.S. Court District Judge Harold Greene, the department is seeking to break up AT&T by forcing it to divest its manufacturing and long distance units from the 23 AT&T by forcing it to divest its manufacturing and long distance units from the 23 AT&T local operating telephone companies.
This year, AT&T is again actively pressing Congress to rewrite the nation's 47-yer old Communications Act. A bill to effect this was recently introduced by a coalition of Senate Republicans led by Oregon's Robert Packwood, chairman of the Commerce Committee. He received $5,800 from the Bell System PACs -- more than any other 1980 Senate candidate.
The bill would modify a 1956 consent decree, which ended another government antitrust suit, and permit AT&T to provide unregulated services, such as data processing.
Currently the company is barred from serving unregulated markets, although the Federal Communications Commission has issued an order permitting it to do so. The order has been appealed by computer concerns and others.
In House races, the Bell System PACs, including one sponsored by the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co., gave $247,695 to 248 Democratic candidates, $233,082 to 204 Republican candidates, and $1,640 to four other officeseekers. The recipients got as little as $50. The largest sum, $5,055, went to incumbent Ohio Democrat Thomas A. Luken. The election law lets a PAC give a candidate ia. Luken. The election law lets a PAC give a candidate tp $5,000 in either a primary, special, or general election.
Displaying a roughly similar bipartisan evenhandedness in Senate contests, the AT&T contributed $66,638 to a total of 36 Democratic candidates and $65,090 to 37 GOP aspirants. Again, the minimum contribution was $50. As was noted, the largest, $5,800, went to Sen. Packwood.
In presidential races, the Bell PACs gave $5,100 to President Carter and $5,654 to Ronald Reagan. Democrat Edward M. Kennedy got $3,600 while the GOPs Howard H. Baker Jr. got $5,050, George Bush $3,100, John B. Connally $2,050, Philip M. Crane $1,000, and Benjamin Fernandez $1,000. Independent John Anderson got $1,220.
The FEC records on corporate PACs, without regard to whether one or more units fall under a parent firm's umbrella, show the following top-10 rankings:
Gross receipts: AT&T (23 PACs), $990,467; LTV (6), $491,282; Winn-Dixie Stores, $400,844; Standard Oil of Indiana (AMOCO) (2), $390,354; Dow Chemical (8), $360,612; General Dynamics Corp., $337,971; American Family Corp., $334,005; Wheelabrator-Frye, Inc. (2), $324,993; Grumman Corp., $306,908, and General Electric Co. (2), $284,763.
Gross expenditures: AT&T (23), $895,437; LTV (6), $446,519; AMOCO (2), $379,948; General Dynamics, $366,568; Dow Chemical (8), $345,838; American Family, $324,436; Grumman, $305,850; Dart Industries (2), $276,164; GE (2), $275,861, and Winn-Dixie, $268,362.
Contributions to federal candidates: AT&T (23), $652,679; Dow Chemical (8), $303,138; Winn-Dixie, $254,350; Dart Industries (2), $242,954; LTV (6) $230,223; Tenneco, Inc., $209,050; AMOCO (2), $197,585; American Family, $188,200; Fluor Corp., $186,528, and Wheelabrator-Frye (2), $180,331.