Maplight, a group that describes itself as “a nonprofit, nonpartisan, research organization that reveals money’s influence on politics,” released a report Friday that highlights the role of Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, as one of the nine sponsors of a telecommunications bill in Congress who has received significant amounts of money from industry stakeholders.

In total, Stearns received more than $50,000 in campaign contributions from companies such as AT&T and Verizon Communications, which had a vested interest in making sure the bill passed.

Maplight reported in a press release Thursday that the bill Stearns and nine other House members sponsored would

establish additional requirements for the FCC before the agency could issue new regulations. These would include identifying a specific market failure or harm that warrants new rules, holding a longer public comment period, and providing a cost-benefit analysis of all regulations applied. It would also limit the ability of the agency to include any terms on corporate mergers. Lawmakers supporting the bill say it would ensure the FCC’s enactment of more appropriate rules, shorten its reaction time, and allow for more public input to the agency, while opponents say it is simply an attempt to hamstring the FCC and make it more difficult to fulfill its public interest function.

The measure was backed by groups and private companies such as AT&T, the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and Verizon. According to Maplight, all of these groups are also “major contributors to the bill’s 10 sponsors.”

Here is a breakdown of contributions to Stearns from telecom and broadcasters, via Maplight:

  • AT&T ($13,000),
  • Comcast ($11,000),
  • National Cable & Telecommunications Association ($11,000),
  • DirecTV Group ($9,000),
  • T-Mobile USA ($9,000)

In total, Stearns received $53,000 from private stakeholders.

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