Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 4:30am
GROUPS BACK TELECOM DEAL WITHOUT FCC DISCLOSURES
[SOURCE: Technology Daily, AUTHOR: David Hatch]
Some nonprofits that back the AT&T, BellSouth merger receive considerable funding from the companies but do not disclose the ties in their comments to the FCC. No disclosure is required, but some observers think regulators should be made fully aware of the connections. The League of Latin American Citizens, which represents 46 million Latinos in the United States and Puerto Rico, asked the FCC in an Oct. 24 letter to green-light the transaction. But President Rosa Rosales did not mention that the AT&T Foundation, the company's philanthropic arm, gave $1.5 million to LULAC in June. Meanwhile, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, which also urged the FCC this week to approve the combination, lists BellSouth and SBC Communications, now part of AT&T, among its corporate partners. But that connection is not mentioned in the Oct. 24 letter that chamber President Harry Alford sent to the agency. "The reason groups like this are highly desirable as commenters is because they give off the impression of being pro-consumer and objective and nonpartisan," said Massie Ritsch, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics. While he believes that a principled organization would not take a position it does not support, he thinks the credibility of the groups would be bolstered by revealing their affiliations.
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