Big ISPs pause donations to 147 Republicans who tried to reverse Biden’s win


Illustration of the Republican Party's elephant logo on one side of a see-saw, with a pile of gold coins on the other side.

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Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon say they have suspended political donations to the 147 Republican members of Congress who voted against certifying Electoral College results, but the companies left the door open for resuming campaign contributions to those lawmakers in the future.

“We will be suspending contributions in 2021 to any member of Congress who voted in favor of objecting to the election results,” a Verizon spokesperson said, according to Light Reading. We asked Verizon if the suspension of donations will last throughout 2021 and will update this article if we get a response.

“The peaceful transition of power is a foundation of America’s democracy,” Comcast said in a statement yesterday. After “the appalling violence” at the US Capitol last week, “our focus needs to be on working together for the good of the entire nation. Consistent with this view, we will suspend all of our political contributions to those elected officials who voted against certification of the Electoral College votes, which will give us the opportunity to review our political giving policies and practices.”

When contacted by Ars, a Comcast spokesperson declined to say how long the donation suspension will be in effect.

AT&T issued a short statement yesterday, saying, “Employees on our Federal PAC [political action committee] Board convened a call today and decided to suspend contributions to members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes last week.” We asked AT&T how long it plans to suspend donations and will update this article if we get an answer.

Despite Democrat Joe Biden’s clear victory over President Trump in both the popular vote and Electoral College, 147 Republicans voted to object to the certification of Electoral College results. This included eight senators and 139 representatives, with the latter number consisting of nearly two-thirds of Republicans in the House.

Telecoms are big donors to both parties

Telcos and cable companies are traditionally big donors to both Democrats and Republicans and have used their sway to lobby against net neutrality rules, broadband-privacy rules, and other regulations. AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon all appear on OpenSecrets’ list of the top 20 contributors from the communications and electronics sector in 2019 and 2020. AT&T gave $9.4 million, Comcast gave $8.4 million, and Verizon gave $4 million, with the majority of all three companies’ donations to politicians going to Democrats. The telecom-services sector gave $76.2 million overall. These numbers consist of donations from individuals and PACs associated with the companies.

Charter Communications, the second-biggest US Internet provider after Comcast, apparently hasn’t made any announcement on whether it will suspend donations. We contacted Charter today and will update this article if we get a response. Charter donated $3.4 million in the 2020 election cycle.

T-Mobile is suspending donations, too, but to all politicians instead of just Republicans who tried to overturn the election results. “The assault on the US Capitol and on democracy was unacceptable,” the company said in a statement provided to Ars. “T-Mobile has supported many elected officials in a bipartisan approach to advancing a policy agenda that keeps the US on the forefront of wireless technology. In light of recent events, we are reevaluating our PAC giving, and have already suspended all of our PAC distributions, pending that reevaluation.”

Telecoms aren’t the only companies suspending donations. Amazon, Best Buy, Airbnb, Cisco, and Intel are among those suspending donations to Republicans who voted against certifying election results, according to Bloomberg. Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are temporarily suspending donations to both parties, Reuters wrote.

Disclosure: The Advance/Newhouse Partnership, which owns 13 percent of Charter, is part of Advance Publications. Advance Publications owns Condé Nast, which owns Ars Technica.





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