RAKING IT IN: U.S. Sen. Al Franken crusades against net neutrality, but receives tens of thousands of dollars in donations from one of the largest internet and media conglomerates in the country.
By Yaël Ossowski | Watchdog.org
U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has made his name in the latter part of his first term as a crusader for net neutrality and a huge critic of billion-dollar mergers of multimedia companies.
And while his ire has been focused on Comcast, the nation’s second largest media conglomerate, he’s been raking in cash from competitor Time Warner Cable, the third-largest, according to profits.
Since 2009, Franken has raised $33,450 from lobbyists from TWC, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit dedicated to tracking political spending.
In his many speeches on the Senate floor and in committee hearings on the issue of regulating the Internet and barring mergers between large media firms, Franken has consistently criticized Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner.
“The proposed acquisition also would threaten innovation and economic activity on the Internet, and it would jeopardize the free flow of information and ideas on which our democracy depends,” wrote Franken in a 40-page statement published on his website in August. “Because the proposed acquisition does not advance the public interest — but, rather, is inimical to it — it must be rejected.”
Responding to Watchdog.org, Franken’s press office denied such donations influenced his decisions on the Senate floor.
“Senator Franken is grateful for the support he receives, but when making policy decisions, he always does what he thinks is best for Minnesotans regardless of who has donated,” said Franken office spokesman Michael Dale-Stein.
Responding to President Obama’s statements advocating a plan to introduce net neutrality and reclassify Internet broadband as a public utility, Franken was more than excited, even throwing in a jab at the same multibillion corporations that have funded his political career.
“I welcome today’s news that President Obama is pressing the FCC to maintain a free and open Internet. He joins a chorus of more than 3.5 million Americans who have told the FCC that killing net neutrality is a terrible idea, and who strongly believe a very simple principle: there shouldn’t be one Internet for deep-pocketed corporations and a separate Internet for everyone else,” he said in a recent statement on his website.
Franken’s biggest donor is Susman Godrey, one of the largest antitrust law firms in the country. It has given Frank nearly $80,000 since he was sworn in after a tough election battle in 2008 with former Sen. Norman Coleman.