John Stankey, CEO of AT&T
Mike Segar | Reuters
Telecommunications giant AT&T has hired an ally of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to lobby officials over President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan.
A lobbying registration report shows AT&T hired Jon Duffy, president of Rhode Island-based marketing firm Duffy & Shanley, in April. The document, which has yet to be reported, does not say whether it will pressure congressional lawmakers or administration officials.
Duffy was a co-chairman of Raimondo’s transition team after being first elected in 2014 as governor of Rhode Island. Records show that Duffy never registered to lobby until his recent deal with AT&T.
The lobbying report says AT&T hired Duffy to focus on “broadband issues and the US employment plan.”
Biden’s $ 2 trillion infrastructure proposal includes a $ 100 billion investment in expanding broadband access. The Senate Republicans’ most recent counter-offer included $ 65 billion for broadband.
Lobbying for infrastructure comes at a pivotal time for AT&T. The company this month announced a $ 43 billion deal to merge its WarnerMedia division with Discovery.
AT&T so far in 2021 has spent just over $ 2.6 million on lobbying expenses, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. AT&T lobbyists have engaged with the Commerce Department, the President’s Executive Office, and the Vice President’s Office, among other agencies.
In response to questions about Duffy’s hiring, AT&T told CNBC on Friday that it plans to focus its lobbying efforts in part on working towards “accessible, affordable and sustainable broadband connectivity.”
âDuring the pandemic, US networks performed much better than other countries,â a company spokesperson said. âThe country’s broadband networks have risen to the challenge with policies that have encouraged private sector investment in multiple technologies and networks. Americans pay less and get more.
Duffy’s PR firm already lists AT&T as a client on its website. Other client companies listed include Intel, Dunkin ‘Donuts, Hallmark, and Staples. Duffy did not respond to a request for comment.
AT&T announced in April a $ 2 billion commitment to help make broadband more affordable.
Raimondo has been a strong advocate for investing in expanding broadband access.
“We need transformational investments in broadband to ensure that all Americans finally have access to reliable and affordable high-speed Internet service.” During the pandemic, we found that broadband broadband service is not a luxury, but a necessity for jobs and education. , and health care, “Raimondo mentionned a tan April hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Announcement of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Department of Commerce earlier this month, a $ 288 million broadband infrastructure grant program.