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Whitehouse Takes Thousands from Execs and PAC at Net Neutrality Killer Comcast

Friday, December 15, 2017


U.S. Senator Whitehouse took thousands from Comcast executives

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has taken thousands in campaign donations this year from top executives from Comcast -- one of the corporations who helped lead the fight to repeal "net neutrality." In addition, he has taken tens of thousands from the Comcast PAC and employees over the past eight years -- a total of approximately $60,000.

On Thursday, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), under the control of appointees of the Trump Administration, voted to rescind net neutrality. The Trump Administration was lobbied successfully by Comcast as well as mega-communication companies, AT&T and Verizon. The FCC clears the way for internet providers to determine the speed an cost for different online content. The fear is that companies like Comcast can and will discriminate for competitive or political reason against web content.

The four members of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation said they opposed the FCC decision, but Whitehouse has aggressively solicited from top executives from the Philadelphia-based Comcast.

Comcast and Their Execs Are Big Whitehouse Donors

The Comcast executives giving to Whitehouse in 2017 include Comcast’s top lawyers Arthur Block.  He serves as Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Comcast and is one of the top officers of the company.

Block donated $2,500.

Another Comcast executive donating to Whitehouse’s re-election in 2017 is Timothy Nestor, Senior Vice President - Financial Operations at Comcast.

Nestor donated $1,500.

Joe Waz serves as Senior Strategic Advisor to Comcast Corporation, and as Senior Counselor, Creative Content Protection, for NBCUniversal. He donated in 2017 to Whitehouse too.

He donated $1,000.

In 2017, according to Federal Campaign Committee data Whitehouse collected $5,000 from the Comcast PAC (COMCAST CORPORATION & NBCUNIVERSAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE - FEDERAL) on February 22.  

And between 2009 and 2014, Whitehouse collected another $26,500 from the Comcast PAC and more than $22,331 from a separate Comcast employees, according to reports.

Thus in 2017, Whitehouse has collected $10,000 from Comcast's PAC and employees and approximately $60,000 over the past eight years.

Emails to Whitehouse’s communications team both in Providence and Washington, D.C. went unanswered.

Whitehouse had Tweeted shortly after the FCC vote, “Put a big special interest up against a public right and the GOP will go with the big special interest every time. Sad. #NetNeutrality."

However, his office refused to answer questions about the donations from Comcast executives and PAC and if the Senator would return the donations.

GOP Candidates Hammer Whitehouse, Claim Hypocrisy

“Just more hypocrisy from Senator Whitehouse. He says he is for the little guy and against 'dark money,' and yet again, we see him lining his pockets with money from big corporate interests whose goals are not always aligned with the public interest,” said former Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice and now GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Bob Flanders.  

“First, it was taking money from Big Pharma and sponsoring legislation that weakened the DEA’s ability to regulate pill mills and now this.  [This is] just par for the course for Senator Whitehouse,” said Flanders.

A recent investigation by 60 Minutes and The Washington Post released an expose on 2016 federal legislation sponsored by Whitehouse. The Post called the legislation "The Drug Industry's Triumph over the DEA."

GOP challenger Bob Flanders

The other GOP hopeful for U.S. Senate, State Representative Bobby Nardolillo said about Whitehouse fundraising from net neutrality opponents, “I guess I am most concerned about how little Senator Whitehouse seems to care about appearances.  While trying to influence the federal government’s position on permitting the internet to remain a free market he is also taking campaign contributions from executives of private companies which will be directly affected.”

While the two GOP candidates were the only ones willing to address the Whitehouse-Comcast connection, others blasted the rollback of ret neutrality.

Millennial RI, the state’s fastest-growing organization representing millennial professionals, is calling on Governor Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island General Assembly to pursue regulatory and legislative action to promote net neutrality -- but issued no comment on Whitehouse. 

In response to the FCC vote, Millennial RI issued a statement condemning the action. 

“We are at a pivotal moment where our state can be among the leaders in the nation to protect consumers against censorship and rising cost toward the websites and applications they want to access. With the Rhode Island General Assembly coming back into session soon, we’re calling on our state leaders to take decisive action to protect an open Internet. This issue is important to not only our millennial generation, but all generations in Rhode Island.”


Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017

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Sponsor: GoLocalProv

Sample: N=403

Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level

Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017

Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)

Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.

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Are you registered to vote at this address?

Yes: 100%

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When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?

Unaffiliated: 49%

Democrat: 32%

Republican: 15%

Moderate: .4%

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Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?

Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...

Definitely be voting: 78%

Probably be voting: 13%

50-50: 9%

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In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?

Right track: 39%

Wrong track: 45%

Mixed: 10%

Don't know/Refused: .6%

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What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?

Jobs and economy:  21%

Education: 12%

Taxes: 12%

Roads: 12%

State budget: 9%

Corruption/Public integrity: .8%

Healthcare: 3%

Governor: 3%

Homelessness: 2%

Immigration: 2%

Other: 7%

Don’t know: .9%

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Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 35%

Changed for the worse: 16%

Not changed at all: 43%

Don't know/Refused: 5%

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Over the same time, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 26%

Changed for the worse: 19%

Not changed at all: 54%

Don't know/Refused: 1%

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Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?

Net: Approve: 28%

Definitely approve: 15%

Probably approve: 14%

Net: Reject: 67%

Probably reject: 19%

Definitely reject: 48%

Don't know: 4%

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Could you please tell me your age?

18-24: 7%

25-34: 15%

35-44: 15%

45-54: 20%

55-64: 17%

65+: 25%

Don't know/refused: 1%

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What was the last grade you completed in school?

0-11: 2%

High school grad: 16%

Technical/Vocational school: 1%

Some college: 23%

College grad: 34%

Graduate degree: 24%

Don't know/refused: 1%

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The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).

$50,000 or less: 27%

More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%

More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%

More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%

$150,000 or more: 13%

Don't know/refused: 17%

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What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?

American/None: 21%

English: 13%

Italian: 13%

Irish: 12%

Black or African American: 6%

Latino/Hispanic: 6%

French: 6%

Portuguese: 3%

Jewish: 3%

German: 1%

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Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?

Excellent: 13%
Good: 12%
Fair: 14%
Poor: 57%
Never heard of:  0%
Cannot rate: 3%

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Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 22%
Good: 29%
Fair: 23%
Poor: 15%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 6%

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Would you say that Sheldon Whitehouse has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 17%
Good: 22%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 28%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 7%

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Would you say that David Cicilline has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 9%
Good: 29%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 27%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate:  8%

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Would you say that James Langevin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 7%
Good: 30%
Fair: 20%
Poor: 18%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 11%

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Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?

Excellent: 6%
Good: 28%
Fair: 30%
Poor: 31%
Never heard of: 1%
Cannot rate: 3%

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Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?

Excellent: 3%
Good: 16%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 8%
Never heard of: 26%
Cannot rate: 25%

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Would you say that Peter Kilmartin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Attorney General?

Excellent: 3%
Good: 20%
Fair: 28%
Poor: 17%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 19%

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Would you say that Seth Magaziner has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as General Treasurer?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 18%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 13%
Never heard of: 21%
Cannot rate: 21%

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Would you say that Nellie Gorbea has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Secretary of State?

Excellent: 5%
Good: 21%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 10%
Never heard of: 20%
Cannot rate: 23%

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Would you say that Jorge Elorza has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Mayor of Providence?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 24%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 22%
Never heard of: 9%
Cannot rate: 15%


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