How Much Money Does It Take To Kill Net Neutrality?

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We now know that Net Neutrality, even if what actually passed wasn’t all that special, faces an uphill struggle to remain on the books, having been voted down at a House subcommittee yesterday. What caught my eye this morning was the amount of money involved, with the nation’s biggest ISPs (AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon) giving out literally thousands of dollars to the committee members’ campaigns. Rep. Fred Upton, for example, received some $94,000 from AT&T over the course of his congressional career. That’s quite a bit of money, I think you’ll agree, particularly given that he’s not from a particularly expensive state (from a purchasing commercials and so forth point of view) in Michigan. So I’ve taken a few minutes to see just how much money the big ISPs have contributed to the members of Congress who voted to de-claw Net Neutrality.

I’ve focused on three companies: Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. These are the biggest ISPs in the country. I’ve taken the past four election cycles (so, going back to the general election in 2004) and looked up how much money they’ve donated to the 15 congressmen who voted down Net Neutrality in the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. My assumption was that Net Neutrality has really only became an issue in the past few years, so going back four election cycles should be sufficient to see any sort of possible influence.

The data comes from OpenSecrets, which is a tremendously valuable Web site.

I’ve put all the data in a handy Excel spreadsheet that you can download here.

The following blockquote can be read as a companion to that Excel spreadsheet.

Upton in 2010 also received $10,000 from the National Cable & Telecommunication Association, the “principal trade association of the cable industry” here in the U.S. That same association gave $11,000 in 2008, $10,250 in 2006, and $14,500 in 2004.

Walden in 2006 also received $10,000 from that same association, and $9,999 in 2004.

Terry in 2006 also received $10,500 from Qwest Communications. In 2004 the amount was $19,076.

Stearns in 2010 also received $10,000 from Deutsche Telekom. In 2008 he received $10,000 from the NCTA, and in 2006 he also received $11,000 from that same association.

Shimkus in 2006 also received $10,000 from the NCTA, and $9,621 in 2004 from that same association.

Bono Mack in 2010 also received $10,250 from the NCTA, and $10,000 in 2008, 2006, and 2004.

Rogers in 2010 and 2008 and 2006 and 2004 also received $10,000 from the NCTA.

Blackburn in 2010 and 2008 also received $10,000 from the NCTA, $11,000 in 2006, and $5,000.

Bilbray in 2010 also received $$8,500 from the NCTA.

Gilgrey in 2010 also received $10,000 from the NCTA.

Scalise in 2010 also received $10,250 from the NCTA.

Latta in 2010 also received $9,000 from the NCTA.

Barton in 2010 and 2004 also received $10,000 from the NCTA, $12,000 in 2008 and 2006.

Conclusion Now, I don’t want to draw any conclusions, per se, but looking at the 15 congressmen who voted against Net Neutrality, the top three ISPs gave their campaigns some $868,024 over the past four election cycles. You can interpret that as, well, they were able to knock down Net Neutrality for less than $1 million, which is pretty much a drop in the bucket for these companies.

I guess all I’m saying is, maybe there’s a relationship between the amount of money the big ISPs have given these congressmen and their subsequent “Net Neutrality is evil!” stance, and votes.

Is this all a giant coincidence? Maybe. Again, you’re free to draw your own conclusions, but it’s certainly funny to see congressmen complaining that Net Neutrality will be the death of the Internet etc. years and years after having their campaign coffers filled by the very companies that would stand to benefit from Net Neutrality’s demise.

Keep calm and carry on, I suppose.