AT&T has a particularly deep bench of lobbyists, employing almost 80 across 28 firms, including former senators John Breaux and Trent Lott and former U.S. congressman and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Vic Fazio, in addition to its in-house government affairs team. The company is consistently one of the biggest spenders on K Street, last year shelling out about $16.4 million to lobby federal lawmakers and agencies, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks lobbying activity.
Playing point for AT&T in Washington is Robert Quinn, who earlier this year took over as the company’s top policy executive from Jim Cicconi.
AT&T’s lobbying roster also includes Ed Pagano, a partner at lobbying giant Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, who was chief of staff and longtime aide to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, ranking Democrat of the Senate Judiciary Committee and one of several Senate Democrats raising questions about whether the acquisition would stifle competition. Akin Gump declined to comment. An AT&T spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.
“This proposed massive consolidation of distribution and content raises potentially serious questions about competition, consumer choice, and privacy across the media, cable TV, wireless and broadband industries,” Leahy said Monday.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), a member of the antitrust subcommittee, also sent a letter Monday to Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler expressing similar concerns and urging both agencies to review the proposal carefully.
Time Warner has a less high-profile presence in Washington. The company has four lobby firms on retainer and last year spent $2.8 million lobbying the federal government. The company’s chief lobbyist is Steve Vest, who before joining Time Warner in 2008 was a lobbyist for TV Guide, the former National Cable and Telecommunications Association and News Corp. Earlier in his career, he was a staffer for Thomas Manton, who was a Democratic congressman from New York before he died. Vest did not immediately return a request for comment.
In 2011, AT&T lobbied hard to push through its attempted acquisition of T-Mobile, which the Justice Department blocked, citing antitrust concerns.