Republic Report’s Suzanne Merkelson also contributed reporting to this piece.
Last November, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced the Outlawing Corporate Cash Undermining the Public Interest in our Elections and Democracy (OCCUPIED) constitutional amendment, which would effectively ban corporate money in the campaign finance system. “I introduced the OCCUPIED Amendment because …of…corporate control of our democracy. It is time to return the nation’s capital and our democracy to the people,” said Deutch in a statement as he introduced his amendment. And earlier last month, Deutch tweeted about the need to “ban corporate $$ in elections“:
Yet this morning Deutch seemed to put aside his beliefs about the dangers of corporate control of our political system. He attended a fundraising breakfast thrown by Lyndon K. Boozer, the Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations at AT&T and a major telecom lobbyist. The invite for the breakfast notes that hosts paid $2,500 a piece and guests paid $1,000.
Republic Report confronted Deutch about his fundraiser with Boozer and AT&T. Deutch repeatedly dodged our questions about AT&T and simply walked away after telling us that Citizens United should be overturned:
JILANI: We want to thank you for introducing the amendment to get corporate money out of politics. But we do want to ask you about today’s fundraiser. From what we understand it’s being hosted by an AT&T lobbyist. We were wondering if that sort of conflicts with your message of getting corporate money out of politics.
DEUTCH: (inaudible) Listen, we’ve got to overturn Citizens United. We’ve got to make sure that democracy is fair again. The fact is, the Citizens United thing is the worst thing to happen, to, to politics, we’ve got to change it.
JILANI: What do you think AT&T is trying to get with the fundraiser?
(Deutch walks away)
Watch Deutch dodge our questions:
When the fundraiser ended, Deutch sent a staff out to get his car to avoid talking to Republic Report again. Meanwhile, Boozer exited the restaurant through a different entrance and darted to his car, also apparently to avoid questions.
AT&T has good reason to be raising money for Deutch. Last year, the telecom company proposed a merger with T-Mobile. Eventually, the federal government criticized this merger, saying that it was not in the public’s interest for this sort of consolidation in the market to occur, and the company dropped its merger plans.
But AT&T spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign contributions to Congress while it was prepping the groundwork for the merger deal. In the summer of 2011, 76 House Democrats signed a letter to the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission praising the merger and taking AT&T’s side. 71 Democrats who signed the letter received financial support from AT&T in the 2010 election cycle. Deutch was one of those Democrats.
It is disheartening to see a Member of Congress who so eloquently challenged Big Money’s role in our politics succumb to being hosted by a lobbyist for a powerful telecommunications company like AT&T.
Filed under: Congress
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