Last updated: September 2, 2011 - 9:07am
The Justice Department's move to block AT&T's purchase of T-Mobile USA marks a rare Washington defeat for the largest U.S. phone company, a failure that deal opponents called a triumph of antitrust analysis over lobbying muscle.
As it sought regulators' blessing for the transaction, AT&T boosted lobbying spending by 30%, to $11.7 million, in the first six months of 2011, vs. the same period last year, according to Senate records. Its PAC gave $805,500 to federal candidates this year, more than any other company, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. AT&T's lobbying strategy has been guided by 13-year company veteran Jim Cicconi, a Washington insider since serving in the Reagan White House. It produced letters to regulators from more than 70 members of Congress, multiple economic studies aimed at supporting the deal, and a pledge to preserve 5,000 jobs. Yet the Justice Department on Wednesday sued to halt the $39 billion deal, calling it harmful to competition.
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