A Letter to the Verizon/AT&T Five

I've been asked for background, so here goes. This post refers to a vote on internet freedom (or 'net neutrality') that took place in a House Committee today. Right now your broadband ISP isn't really allowed to block legal web sites or services to their customers. A law that passed in a House Committee today lets them. It's a little more complicated than that, but that's the gist. Pretty soon your broadband provider will be allowed to block Google, Vonage, or your favorite blog if a competitor pays them, if they develop a competing service, or if they just don't like you. This sort of undermines the whole internet thing, and I'm fighting against it. More info is at Savetheinternet.com. These five people I'm highlighting are the Democrats who voted against a free internet, and I'd like you to call them up and let them know that their vote against the Markey Amendment (that's what the amendment was called) is simply outrageous. They need to know people are mad.

Dear Verizon/ATT Five,

I know how much you enjoy getting campaign contributions from telecommunications interests, and I hope that you find yourself swimming in contributions.  I mean, you've earned it, since voting against freedom on the internet isn't going to get you many fans.  I'm also glad you're so accessible to your constituents, and I've taken the liberty to list the amount of money you received from cable and telephone interests, as well as your office's phone number.

  1. Ed Towns (NY-10) received $22,000 from cable and telecom company interests.  I'm glad I can you reach you at (202) 225-5936.

  2. Al Wynn (MD-04) received $19,100 from cable and telecom company interests.  I'm glad I can you reach you at (202) 225-8699.

  3. Charlie Gonzales: (TX-20) received $16,500 from cable and telecom company interests.  I'm glad I can you reach you at (202) 225-3236.

  4. Bobby Rush: (IL-01) received $21,000 from cable and telecom company interests.  I'm glad I can you reach you at (202) 225-4372.

  5. Gene Green: (TX-29) received $12,000 from cable and telecom company interests.  I'm glad I can you reach you at (202) 225-1688 tel.

It's hard work to make hundreds of thousands of internet users really really mad.  But you persevered, and in all likelihood your reelection campaigns will be that much richer.  Congrats, guys, you made Santa's naughty list.  

Oh yeah, and incidentally Blogpac is making a list of people to primary and people to make nice with in 2008.  You know, the PAC for the internets, which is raising money here.  


The Internets

PS.  And as an aside, we didn't include Eliot Engel (NY-17) and Bart Stupak (MI-01) on this list, because they changed their votes and decided to protect freedom on the internet.  The other Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Republican Heather Wilson of New Mexico, voted to protect the internet as well.  Thanks.  They can be thanked and should be thanked here.

Tags: net neutrality, primary project (all tags)



Re: Dear Verizon/ATT Five,

I ain't thanking Heather Wilson for anything. She may have voted right on this one, but I want to see her defeated in November!!!!!

by Ament Stone of California 2006-04-26 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Dear Verizon/ATT Five,

Good luck getting through to Ed Towns.  That man doesn't have a principled bone in his body.  He's already drawn a primary challenge for voting for CAFTA.  As Gatemouth, one of my favorite New York bloggers, wrote about him:

ET is a man of no fixed allegience beyond personal expedience, who supported Bush on CAFTA and recently took a walk on a close and important budget vote. In 1997, his eclectic politics of convieniance were nicely illustrated when his endorsement of Al Sharpton in the Democratic mayoral primary served as political foreplay for his general election endorsement of Republican Rudolph Giuliani (rumor has it that ET nearly had a heart attack, and was forced to cancel a day-after-the-primary Rudy endorsement press conference, when it appeared that Sharpton had unexpectedly forced a runoff). The next year, ET did the dirty deed again, this time on behalf of Al D'Amato. ET is well known for his willingness to trade his vote for pork (or, in the case of his Satmar constituents, for pastrami) regardless of the issue and his prior record. In a district as prohibitively Democratic as the 10th, ET is as close as the Republican are going to get to a dream come true.

Incidentally, this is from a post endorsing Towns against his primary challenger.

by antidoto 2006-04-26 02:35PM | 0 recs
Campaign warchests

I looked up every New York Dem and their campaign fundraising and spending.

Everyone of them gave money to the DCCC.  Depending on their own resources, they gave from the high 5 figures to 6 figures.

Dems used to hog their money for themselves, but now they are supposed to give money to the DCCC to help the campaigns of /dems who need help and to elect more Dems.

The highest givers were Nita Lowey (250K), Joe Crowley(170) and Nydia Velasquez (170)

Major Owens of Brooklyn is not running for relelction and had no money to donate to the DCCC this cycle.


But he did shell out $1400 for dinner in Miami at the China Grill for constituents and a $1700 cruise with constituents!!!!

The other Dem, from a safe district, who gave so little compared to what he had that it was laughable was Gregory Meeks, also of Brooklyn, who also voted for CAFTA and the bankruptcy bill.

Some people seem to be buyable. And we Dems should not be proud of Dems like these.

by debcoop 2006-04-26 09:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Campaign warchests

One slight caveat--while Major Owens isn't running for reelection, he's campaigning pretty actively on behalf of his son, Chris Owens, who is running to take over his seat in a multi-way contested primary.  He's definitely out there raising money, although it isn't going into his own war chest.  I don't know what obligations that puts him under with respect to the DCCC.

by antidoto 2006-04-27 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Dear Verizon/ATT Five,

Oh, and Albert Wynn was last seen as sponsor, with Bob Ney, of the BS Republican-leadership alternative to Shays/Meehan, the House version of McCain/Feingold.  Not much hope for him either, I wouldn't guess.

by antidoto 2006-04-26 02:38PM | 0 recs
Bobby Rush

$21,000 from the telecoms is chump change. A community center he founded recently received a $1 million donation from SBC/AT&T. Bobby claims there was no quid pro quo, but you have to wonder...

by ltsply2 2006-04-26 02:41PM | 0 recs
Were the Horrible Five's votes bought?

Just looking at the Open Secrets 04 numbers for Towns, I see he spent around $750,000 and got $19,000 from Telephone Utilities and $15,000 from Telecom Services and Equipment.

Both categories together about 5% of the total.

However - shock horror! The top House recipient in each category was: Markey of MA!

Nothing worse than buying a guy who won't stay bought!

(For evidence of the slightest correlation between cash and votes, you would, of course, want to look at the tainted moolah everyone on the committee got. My guess: any correlation unlikely to be statistically significant.)

by skeptic06 2006-04-26 02:50PM | 0 recs
Tell you what *is* statistically significant...

(Nearly forgot!)

That three of the five renegades are CBC-ers.

I was reading some bollocks a few weeks ago in the lefty sphere somewhere about the CBC as some sort of vanguard of progressivism among Dem MCs.

It ain't necessarily so.

Not that they've all been as reliable FOTs as Brer Towns. But the CBC, it seems to me, supplies its fair share - perhaps rather more than its fair share - to the bench of House Dems willing to help out the GOP leadership when they're a few votes short (or want to do their mavericks a favor and release them to goose their constituents).

by skeptic06 2006-04-26 02:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Tell you what *is* statistically significant..

The trouble with a lot of the CBC people is not that they are black but that they are in uncompetitive districts.  This makes them kings in the district for 10 year periods who get suckered into the greed of large donations and corrupted by all their time in DC.

Wynn is a perfect example.  He supported the repeal of the Paris Hilton Tax (estate tax), he co-sponsored with the soon to be indicted Ney on the sham campaign finance reform bill, and he has buddied up with all kinds of monied interests in the past but there is no disloging him or Rush.

Even Obama couldn't oust Rush.

by DaveB 2006-04-26 04:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Tell you what *is* statistically significant..

Good point.

An irony that one of the effects of VRA gerrymanders has been that, instead of improving the quality of black representation, in a number of cases it's just changed the shade of face on the campaign poster.

The other irony being how they're worth around ten seats to the GOP. If they keep control of the House, that's what's going to have saved them, most likely.

Funny old world...

by skeptic06 2006-04-26 04:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Dear Verizon/ATT Five,

The termonology here is great..."Verizon/ATT Five" sounds like a gang of bank robbers or the Keating Five.  Good work & solid research.

by howardpark 2006-04-26 03:04PM | 0 recs
Re: A Letter to the Verizon/AT&T Five

"They can be thanked and should be thanked here."

Where is that link supposed to go? Do I have to join MoveOn to be able to see anything? They're a little too pyramid for me...

by tatere 2006-04-26 06:10PM | 0 recs

I am glad my former boss did the right thing and voted for the Markey Amendment.  I'll be sure to thank him.

by John Mills 2006-04-26 06:14PM | 0 recs
Re: A Letter to the Verizon/AT&T Five

This is a really important issue...

I want to thank all the people active on the blogs. This slender thread, a lifeline to many, a soon to be actually ubiquitous facet of everyday life, the Net, the web, the information superhighway...whatever Al invented..., needs to put in a category of its own.

But I wonder, having lived in Silicon Valley since the late '60's...Are these guys spending billions buying politicians, lobbying for a decade, are these guys running around trying to lock up something we are going to reinvent, you know like getting a monopoly on the 8-trac, woulda been great for a couple of years...

I mean if they really believe in the "free market", don't they realize that the minute they can truly control it, it will become irrelevant...kinda like the "news", I mean if Cronkite's seat can be given to Katie Who...

Then you are irrelevant...

The future is in a decentralized model and we don't have to invent it...it already exists...
These guys are fightin' over the tail...

But at least we know who they are...and who the lackeys are...


by Dallas112263 2006-04-26 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: A Letter to the Verizon/AT&T Five

I actually spoke with Rep. Towns this evening. It was 7:45 on the West Coast when I called and I didn't expect anyone to answer. I expected to get an answering machine like I did from the other representatives. At 10:45pm in Washington D.C. he was still in his office. Anyway, I was very nervous and working on staying respectful and constructive. I asked him why he voted against the Markley Amendemnt. His responses were in essence: The amendment was going to be defeated anyway. I then asked him what protections were going to be put in place to prevent corporations from creating an imbalanced Internet that does not serve the people, and that haven't we learned that corporations can not be trusted to act in the public interest. He said that we have to trust in "the FCC to do its job" and protect the people and that the amendment was just not rational. I asked him just how realistic was it to expect to regain public control of the Internet after it has been given to the corporations. Rep. Towns said the country was in "a mess" and democrats would hopefully win Congress and the White House, and that the party in control gets to make the appointments. Then the FCC would be able govern corporate behaviour. I next asked him if it wouldn't be more prudent not to give up public control in the first place thus by-passing the need to regain that control. He continued speaking in terms of the FCC doing its job. I was too stunned to ask him about the $22,000. I wish I could remember our discussion verbatim, but as I mentioned I was nervous.

by 0x29a 2006-04-26 07:44PM | 0 recs
Love those Dem Rubber Stampers!

Any legislator who tells a constituent to rely on the effectiveness and good faith of the FCC is either deluded to the point of incapacity or a real piece of work.

It's one of the reasons why I'd have never have gone with the Rubber Stamp Congress thing.

Because, so often, there are so many Dems joining in the stamping.

(Most notably - and unforgivably - on the Iraq war resolution.)

And I have a feeling that the average voter knows it's a crock, even if he can't quote chapter and verse.

by skeptic06 2006-04-27 01:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Love those Dem Rubber Stampers!

A bit harsh, in retrospect.

The largest class of such legislators, I suspect, would be the hacks representing functional rotten boroughs (98% incumbent reelection rates may be dented this year, though!) and doing what it takes to ensure no one rocks the boat.

They didn't make the rules; it's not their fault the nation is gerrymandered to buggery. Any one of us - well, most of us - put in their position, would do the same.

Same the whole world over. (I'd like evidence for assertions to the contrary!)

If the choice is between a hack and a Blair-style True Believer, I'll take the hack any day...

by skeptic06 2006-04-27 02:41AM | 0 recs
Re: A Letter to the Verizon/AT&T Five

Bobby Rush (IL-01) received $21,000 from cable and telecom company interests.

Not to mention the $1 million SBC/AT&T gave to a community center he founded.

by Douglas Tonks 2006-04-26 09:21PM | 0 recs
Re: A Letter to the Verizon/AT&T Five

I know this is MyDD, but why are we letting the Republicans off so easy?  Mike Ferguson (R NJ-7) seriously needs to be told off on this issue, and quite a few others: he's anti-choice, anti-stem cell research, voted to drill in ANWR, has taken over $54,000 from Tom DeLay, and has a lifetime score of 7% from the ACLU!

Visit http://www.dumpmike.com/ and http://www.blue7th.com/ to see the grassroots movement against him, and support his Democratic opponent, Linda Stender, at http://lindastenderforcongress.com/.

by miriamsong 2006-04-27 04:20AM | 0 recs
Some missing info

Bobby Rush did not merely vote against the amendment -- he is also one of the co-sponsors of the underlying bill.

People should know this when they call his office to complain.

by Disputo 2006-04-27 01:25PM | 0 recs
Re: A Letter to the Verizon/AT&T Five

Right now your broadband ISP isn't really allowed to block legal web sites or services to their customers.

"isn't really" is right.  Existing neutrality rules only affect common carriers.  Cable companies and non-common-carrier ISP's such as AOL, Earthlink, Speakeasy, etc have never been subject to neutrality rules.  The only folks this ruling would affect are DSL customers of common carrier providers such as AT&T & Verizon, and now they're just on the same footing as the rest of the Internet.  

Big deal.

by curiousstranger 2006-04-28 06:04PM | 0 recs


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