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Cicilline Supported Business Merger After Receiving Campaign Contribution

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


The majority of Democratic legislators that signed on to a letter to the FCC and Justice Department supporting the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile received campaign donations directly from AT&T, including Freshman Congressman David Cicilline.

66 of the 72 lawmakers that praised the meger were on the receiving end of $500k in contributions from AT&T, with many officials receiving $10,000 or more. While initial reports did not list the amount Cicilline received, the Congressman’s Communications Director Jessica Kershaw confirmed that it was $1,000.

Not Paid To Support Merger

Kershaw firmly stated that Congressman Cicilline’s support of the merger had nothing to do with the contribution from AT&T.

“In no way were we paid to support the merger,” Kershaw said.

Kershaw said Cicilline’s support stems from his belief that it will help create jobs in Rhode Island. Kershaw said Cicilline’s office also heard from constituents that supported the merger.

Currently AT&T employs about 200 people in the state and that number is likely to rise, she said. In 2008, the company paid $20.7 million in state and local taxes in Rhode Island and it spent over $84 million in goods and services from state suppliers in 2009, according to Kershaw.

She also noted that the merger was supported by various labor organizations as well as the NAACP and the Sierra Club.

Get Corporate Money Out Of Politics

While no one has accused Cicilline of any wrongdoing, some local leaders say this is just the latest example of why corporate money should be removed from campaigns.

“This is another example of why we need to get corporate money out of politics, so the motives of our elected officials cannot be questioned because of who is funding their elections,” John Marion, Executive Director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said.

Former State Rep. and Congressional Candidate David Segal agreed with Marion. He said now is the time to publicly fund elections.

“There are plenty of people and organizations on both sides of the merger debate, but taking money from one of the interested parties certainly calls into question the recipients' motives,” Segal said. “That's why voters should reward candidates who don't take corporate money, and it's why we so desperately need public funding of elections.”

Cicilline Needs The Money

Congressman Jame Langevin also receieved $8,000 in contributions from AT&T, but local critics mostly directed their attention at Cicilline, the first-term Representative.

Michael Napolitano, a spokesman for John Loughlin, who is currently serving in Iraq, said Cicilline is desperate for campaign cash.

“No surprise here with David Cicilline,” Napolitano said. “He needs the money to pay for all of those macaroni and meatball diners he will buy for senior citizens while he is yet again scaring the hell out of them by misinforming them about their benefits being taken away if Republicans are elected. I don't think he will be getting many campaign donations from the citizens of Providence so he needs all the money he can get.”

Cicilline raised about $124,000 in the first quarter of 2011. The second quarter ends Thursday, but he won’t have to report his fundraising numbers until the middle of July.

Supports Campaign Finance Reform

During his campaign last fall, Cicilline was criticized by his opponents for not signing on to a campaign finance reform pledge from MoveOn.org. He wound up joining his fellow candidates and supporting the pledge days later.

“If we are going to fix what’s broken in Washington, we first need to break the link between money and politics, and the challenges we face as a nation are too great for half-measures or partial reform,” Cicilline said at the time. “I am proud to support a stronger, amended version of MoveOn.org’s pledge to commit to reform our campaign finance system.”


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