PROVIDENCE, R.I. (GoLocalProv) — U.S. Senator Whitehouse took thousands from Comcast executives.
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has taken thousands in campaign donations this year from top executives from Comcast — one of the corporations who helped lead the fight to repeal “net neutrality.” In addition, he has taken tens of thousands from the Comcast PAC and employees over the past eight years — a total of approximately $60,000.
On Thursday, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), under the control of appointees of the Trump Administration, voted to rescind net neutrality. The Trump Administration was lobbied successfully by Comcast as well as mega-communication companies, AT&T and Verizon. The FCC clears the way for internet providers to determine the speed an cost for different online content. The fear is that companies like Comcast can and will discriminate for competitive or political reason against web content.
The four members of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation said they opposed the FCC decision, but Whitehouse has aggressively solicited from top executives from the Philadelphia-based Comcast.
Comcast and Their Execs Are Big Whitehouse Donors
The Comcast executives giving to Whitehouse in 2017 include Comcast’s top lawyers Arthur Block. He serves as Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Comcast and is one of the top officers of the company.
Block donated $2,500.
Another Comcast executive donating to Whitehouse’s re-election in 2017 is Timothy Nestor, Senior Vice President – Financial Operations at Comcast.
Nestor donated $1,500.
Joe Waz serves as Senior Strategic Advisor to Comcast Corporation, and as Senior Counselor, Creative Content Protection, for NBCUniversal. He donated in 2017 to Whitehouse too.
He donated $1,000.
In 2017, according to Federal Campaign Committee data Whitehouse collected $5,000 from the Comcast PAC (COMCAST CORPORATION & NBCUNIVERSAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE – FEDERAL) on February 22.
And between 2009 and 2014, Whitehouse collected another $26,500 from the Comcast PAC and more than $22,331 from a separate Comcast employees, according to reports.
Thus in 2017, Whitehouse has collected $10,000 from Comcast’s PAC and employees and approximately $60,000 over the past eight years.
Emails to Whitehouse’s communications team both in Providence and Washington, D.C. went unanswered.
Whitehouse had Tweeted shortly after the FCC vote, “Put a big special interest up against a public right and the GOP will go with the big special interest every time. Sad. #NetNeutrality.”
However, his office refused to answer questions about the donations from Comcast executives and PAC and if the Senator would return the donations.
GOP Candidates Hammer Whitehouse, Claim Hypocrisy
“Just more hypocrisy from Senator Whitehouse. He says he is for the little guy and against ‘dark money,’ and yet again, we see him lining his pockets with money from big corporate interests whose goals are not always aligned with the public interest,” said former Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice and now GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Bob Flanders.
“First, it was taking money from Big Pharma and sponsoring legislation that weakened the DEA’s ability to regulate pill mills and now this. [This is] just par for the course for Senator Whitehouse,” said Flanders.
A recent investigation by 60 Minutes and The Washington Post released an expose on 2016 federal legislation sponsored by Whitehouse. The Post called the legislation “The Drug Industry’s Triumph over the DEA.”
The other GOP hopeful for U.S. Senate, State Representative Bobby Nardolillo said about Whitehouse fundraising from net neutrality opponents, “I guess I am most concerned about how little Senator Whitehouse seems to care about appearances. While trying to influence the federal government’s position on permitting the internet to remain a free market he is also taking campaign contributions from executives of private companies which will be directly affected.”
While the two GOP candidates were the only ones willing to address the Whitehouse-Comcast connection, others blasted the rollback of ret neutrality.
Millennial RI, the state’s fastest-growing organization representing millennial professionals, is calling on Governor Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island General Assembly to pursue regulatory and legislative action to promote net neutrality — but issued no comment on Whitehouse.
In response to the FCC vote, Millennial RI issued a statement condemning the action.
“We are at a pivotal moment where our state can be among the leaders in the nation to protect consumers against censorship and rising cost toward the websites and applications they want to access. With the Rhode Island General Assembly coming back into session soon, we’re calling on our state leaders to take decisive action to protect an open Internet. This issue is important to not only our millennial generation, but all generations in Rhode Island.”FacebookTwitterGoogle +