By Justin Sink - 02/13/14 01:20 PM EST
Executives at Comcast and Time Warner, which on Thursday announced a $45.2 billion merger that will set off an antitrust fight in Washington, have showered President Obama and congressional Democrats with campaign contributions.
Employees and the associated political action committees of both media giants donated heavily to the president and his party ahead of the 2012 elections, according to Federal Election Commission records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, and appear on pace to do so again in 2014.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has donated $76,000 to Democrats since 2006, compared to $13,500 in contributions to Republicans. He’s golfed with Obama on Martha’s Vineyard, served on the president’s Jobs Council, and appeared at a number of White House meetings on business and technology.
But his fundraising efforts were dwarfed by head Comcast lobbyist David Cohen, a Democratic bundler who raised $1.44 million for the president’s reelection campaign in 2011 and 2012, and $2.22 million since 2007, according to internal documents obtained by the New York Times.
In 2011, Cohen hosted a DNC fundraiser attended by Obama at his home in Philadelphia. During the event, the president thanked him and his wife for “just being such great friends for so many years.”
Throughout the 2012 cycle, Comcast employees donated more than $465,000 to the Democratic National Committee, more than $300,000 to the president’s reelection campaign, and $178,050 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to Center for Responsive Politics data.
By contrast, Comcast employees donated just over $114,000 to the Republican National Committee, $93,000 to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, and $103,000 to the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.
This cycle, Comcast employees and the company's political action committee have pledged $200,000 to the Democratic Governor’s Association — more than twice than to any other campaign committee or candidate. The cable giant donated just over $65,000 to both the NRCC and DNC, while House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) netted nearly $59,000 in contributions and the DSCC banked just under $51,000.
Time Warner CEO Robert Marcus has only held his job for 44 days, but also has a political contribution record that favors Democrats.
Since 2010, Marcus has donated $8,500 to nine Democratic candidates, including Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Kristen Gillibrand (N.Y.), as well as Reps. Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Steve Israel (N.Y.). His lone Republican donation, according to OpenSecrets.org, was to Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.).
Donations from the New York company’s employees also heavily favored Democrats in 2012. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the company’s top seven donations were all to Democratic committees, candidates, or super-PACs.
That included more than $650,000 to the DNC, $442,000 for Obama’s presidential campaign, nearly $150,000 for the DCCC, $56,000 for the DSCC and $205,000 for political action committees supporting Democratic candidates. By contrast, Time Warner employees gave just $28,100 to Mitt Romney.
Since then, Time Warner employees have continued to favor Democrats. The top five recipients of Time Warner political dollars since the presidential election have been the Democratic Governors’ Association, the DNC, Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), the DCCC, and Alison Lundergran Grimes, who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The heavy donations to Democratic candidates could raise eyebrows as the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division weighs whether to approve the $42.5 billion merger.
The combined company would provide television for nearly 30 percent of the market, and regulators will evaluate whether the combination risks impairing competition.
In a conference call on Thursday, Roberts said that since the cable companies don’t currently service the same markets, they would not hurt competition by merging.
The acquisition “creates literally a world class tech and media company” that can better service customers, Roberts said during a press call Thursday. “We do believe this transaction will bring pro-consumer benefits.”