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How AT&T Bought the California Democratic Party

Today's article by Matthew Yi of the San Francisco Chronicle describes in gory detail the process by which AT&T effectively bought the California legislature and got bill AB2987 passed over the objections of local governments and community activists. Yi reports that "phone companies that stand to gain the most from the legislation, especially AT&T, have pulled out all the stops in making their case before lawmakers, spending more than $200,000 a day during a three-month promotional blitz." The legislature in California is dominated by the Democratic party, and this sordid story serves as an object lesson in why the Democrats are a party of corporate interests.

Yi reports that during this three month period, which took place after state Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, a Democrat, held a news conference introducing the legislation,
AT&T and Verizon spent almost $19.7 million to influence the vote on AB2987, an amount that astounds Capitol veterans.

AT&T led the way by spending nearly $18 million on lobbyists; television, radio and newspaper advertising; wining and dining lawmakers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium; and Lakers basketball tickets for the chairwoman of the Senate committee that held hearings on the legislation, records show.

A few weeks after Núñez's news conference, AT&T co-hosted a golf tournament at Pebble Beach that helped the speaker raise $1.7 million for the state Democratic Party.
Yi also points out:
Despite initial opposition by cable companies and continuing objection from local governments and consumer groups, which say the increased competition for video service won't lower prices, the legislation has yet to receive a single "no" vote during committee and floor votes. Final votes are expected on the bill this week.

"This appears to be an example of special interest(s) using their financial clout to buy public policy," said Ned Wigglesworth, policy advocate of California Common Cause, a nonprofit government watchdog group. "If you look up 'juiced bill' in the dictionary, this would be the definition."
Here we see how the Democratic Party serves the interests of its corporate sponsors. Let this be a reminder to anyone who thinks that the Democratic Party is a "progressive" force in American politics.