Mergers are an expensive business. Not only is Comcast spending $45 billion just to buy Time Warner Cable, but also there are the costs of getting the deal approved. Trying to convince regulators and lawmakers that this arrangement is not only not harmful, but potentially beneficial, is a hefty undertaking. That means a legion of lobbyists.
The Hill reports today on the scope of Comcast’s lobbying campaign, calling it the “shock and awe” approach. The cable company has employed no fewer than 40 separate lobbying firms to blanket DC with arguments on its behalf.
Comcast keeps a large stable of lobbyists working anyway; The Hill says that at the start of the year they employed 33 firms. The extra seven were hired since Comcast and TWC announced their merger intention in February.
Why hire so many different firms? Because lobbying isn’t really about filing forms and moving money. It’s a giant game of matching up the people you know — or have paid — with the people they know. And lobbyists know lots of people in government, because that’s where they used to work.
The lobbyists and lobbying groups Comcast has hired all have ties to the regulatory agencies and Congressional committees that the cable giant needs to win over in order to see its merger bid approved. The Hill outlines several. For example, one who was formerly with the House Judiciary Committee and the DoJ Antitrust Division:
Joseph Gibson of The Gibson Group, which started lobbying for Comcast in April, has held several prominent roles with the House Judiciary Committee, whose members grilled Comcast executives for four hours earlier this month. Gibson also worked at the Justice Department, including a stint advising the assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division.
Over 80% of the lobbyists Comcast currently has on their roster formerly worked for the federal government, The Hill adds, and in 2013 the only company to outspend them on lobbying was Northrop Grumman (an enormous defense contractor).
And of course these lobbyists are all in addition to the significant campaign donations Comcast is sprinkling through Congress, and the well-timed philanthropic projects that the company uses to buy extra “good-guy” cred.
Not everyone is in favor of the merger, of course. Our colleagues down the hall at Consumers Union joined a protest yesterday at Comcast’s annual shareholder meeting to oppose the planned merger. You can see a video from the event embedded below.