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Emanuel Praises Comcast-Time Warner Deal After Enriching His Campaign Fund

By aaroncynic in News on Sep 3, 2014 3:30PM

AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato

As the first deadline to file formal comments with the FCC regarding the Comcast-Time Warner merger passed last week—a deal that would create an unholy broadband/cable behemoth with control of 40 percent of the broadband market and two-thirds of the cable market—Comcast was quick to boast about its support from communities across the country. In a blog post last week, Executive Vice President David L. Cohen gave special praise to Mayor Rahm Emanuel as one of some 70 mayors and 60 other elected officials that have supported the merger.

On Aug. 22, Emanuel penned a letter to the FCC supporting the merger of the two largest telecom companies in the country, saying what could create an effective monopoly in some areas would somehow “reduce the digital divide” and give Chicagoans better access to the internet:

“From our perspective, we do not believe the proposed transaction would reduce choice, elevate prices, or otherwise harm consumers. Further, we are optimistic that the increased resources of the combined corporation will lead to more investment in local network infrastructure and faster internet speeds. This is critically important to Chicago, as it would help achieve our goal of reducing the digital divide, allowing all Chicagoans to obtain effective access to the information and resources necessary to thrive in today’s high-tech world.”

Emanuel goes on to praise the company’s “generous presence” in Chicago, lauding its Internet Essentials program, a partnership with CPS and other community organizations, as well as its sponsorship of 1871, the Merchandise Mart-based tech start-up hub.

Comcast has had a “generous presence” in another way—Emanuel’s campaign coffers. Investigative journalist David Sirota, writing for the International Business Times, reveals Emanuel and related PAC’s have both received plenty of money from the cable giant. Between donations from Comcast and employees like Cohen, Chicago’s mayor took in more than $100,000 in various elections dating all the way back to congressional campaigns from 2003 to 2008.

Emanuel isn’t the only local politician to benefit from Comcast’s fight to hoard the majority of the market. In total, the company has directly spread around at least $85,000 in various campaigns throughout Illinois. Sen. Dick Durbin has taken in the lion’s share of that money at $18,500, with Congressman John Shimkus (R, IL-15) as the runner up with about half as much. Overall, according to the Sunlight Foundation, Durbin has taken in $51,700 from Comcast-affiliated employees.

Though the $45 billion merger has garnered plenty of ire from the public and some politicians on both sides of the political aisle, some analysts say the deal is all but done. Paul Gallant, managing director of telecom research at Guggenheim Partners told the Washington Post “I still suspect the merger will be approved. It doesn’t seem to trip any antitrust wires, and merger conditions would let the FCC push various Internet policies it cares about.”

The FCC has another 126 days left in its 180-day review period, with two more periods for public comments.