AT&T last Thursday formally requested that the Federal Communications Commission transfer over T-Mobile’s spectrum licenses as the first step in its bid to gain approval of an acquisition that will make it the largest wireless provider in the country.

After AT&T announced in late March that it had reached an agreement with Deutsche Telekom AG to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion, the battle to gain approval of the deal from both the FCC and the Justice Department shifted to Washington. The company spent more than $15 million last year lobbying the federal government. Since the beginning of the month it has added Capitol City Group and Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart to its roster of lobbying shops as part of a push to get the deal past regulators.

The company’s competitors have also taken notice. Sprint has publicly opposed the merger, saying it will stifle competition and hurt consumers. Sprint Nextel spent more than $2.5 million on lobbying the federal government last year, according to Center for Responsive Politics figures.

“It is an indisputable fact that this takeover would create an entrenched duopoly,” said Vonya B. McCann, Sprint’s senior vice president of government affairs, after reviewing AT&T’s filing. “This kind of leverage could strangle competition and give AT&T the power to increase prices, threaten innovation critical to this industry and eliminate American jobs.”

Scanlon must pay Greenberg Traurig

A federal judge in the District last week stymied former Jack Abramoff accomplice Michael P.S. Scanlon’s attempt to avoid paying more than $17 million restitution to Greenberg Traurig.

When Scanlon was sentenced in February to 20 months in prison for his role in a joint scheme that defrauded five Native American tribes of more than $20 million, his legal team argued it was an “open question” whether he must reimburse a “potentially responsible party” such as Abramoff’s former law firm Greenberg Traurig, which had already repaid the bulk of the money to the tribes.

But in his April 20 ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth rejected that claim, pointing out the government did not charge Greenberg Traurig with any crime in connection with the Abramoff-Scanlon affair or indict it as a co-conspirator.

Ropes & Gray represented Scanlon in the dispute. Williams & Connolly represented Greenberg Traurig.