Tapped Cash

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A plaintiff in one of the lawsuits filed against telecommunications companies for their role in the tapping customers' phone lines without a warrant notes the campaign contributions that back up congressional decisions to side with the telecom companies over consumers.

The telecommunications industry accounts for tens of millions per year in campaign contributions -- look at these totals from the Center for Responsive Politics. There's no way that in a wildly expensive, fiercely competitive election season like this one that those candidates who count on their cash are going to risk doing much to irk big givers.

Robert Jacobsen, the author of the article, sees the fallout:

AT&T and Verizon, the defendants in the California lawsuit over their role in warrantless spying, have together given more than $1.5 million to congressional candidates in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The Senate already passed a bill that includes immunity. The House, on the other hand, has resisted both immunity and expanded wiretaps that will sweep up countless Americans with no court oversight. But with competing versions of legislation approved, that kind of cash will be pretty persuasive.

[. . .]

My experience with the phone companies shows that they don't act in the country's - or even their customers' - interest. When the telecoms come calling, our House members need to be ready to answer: We don't grant special favors. Click.

Unfortunately, it's the House members who will be picking up the phone in most cases -- to ask telecom executives for money.