BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Some of the same lawmakers who could approve a mega cable merger between Comcast and Time Warner have received tens-of-thousands of dollars worth of campaign contributions from Comcast employees.
At the top of the list is Senator Charles Schumer. As first reported in the tech blog, ARS Technica, and verified by News 4, Schumer’s campaign has received at least $35,000. It was broken down over several election cycles in increments of $5,000 and $10,000.
Schumer serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, now hearing arguments over the mega merger.
New York’s senior senator has recused himself from any discussion and decision on the deal, because his brother was linked to Time Warner Cable.
The senator has not publicly said whether he supports the merger, but has said if it were to go through, there would be positive implications for Western New York.
So why did Schumer get so much money from Comcast employees? Comcast spokeswoman, Sena Fitzmaurice, would only say, “There are very significant operations of NBC Universal [and thus, parent company, Comcast] that are headquartered in New York.”
Fitzmaurice says 300 to 400 bills are introduced in Congress each year that can impact the company. News 4 questioned if these contributions were to sway a lawmaker’s decision. Fitzmaurice wouldn’t comment.
“People with the most money get the most voice and that’s sort of the problem with this political system,” said Adam Smith, who is part of a third-party watchdog group called the “Public Campaign Action Fund.”
“It highlights the inherent conflict of interest built into our political system where a member of congress is expected to regulate an industry that they are raising money from,” he added.
Fitzmaurice said the company is not contributing directly to campaign funds, because it is illegal for a corporation to do so. She said all employee contributions were voluntary.