ATTYTOOD: When Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter went more public last week with his increasingly strange and quixotic battle against the National Football League — supposedly over the New England “Spygate” scandal — some politically savvy wags raised an interesting point. They noted that the longtime GOP stalwart’s No. 2 source of campaign funds in recent years has been none other than employees of Comcast Corp. and their families, linked to at least $153,600 in donations going back to 1989. That’s significant because Philadelphia-based Comcast has been engaged in a protracted war with the NFL over an issue that has nothing to do with New England and spying but is worth millions of dollars: Whether the cable giant can and should charge its consumers extra money to view the NFL Network. Good find, but if you dig a little deeper…it’s even worse than that.
Look again at the list, and see who Specter’s No. 1 source of campaign contributions has been — by far. That would the law firm — also based here in Philly but with a large D.C. presence — of Blank Rome LLC, now a growing lobbying powerhouse. Since 1989, partner and employees and family members from Blank Rome have donated $358,483 to Specter’s political kitty, dwarfing all others.
And who is one of Blank Rome’s largest lobbying clients? That would be Comcast Corp., which according to publicly available U.S. Senate disclosure records has paid some $600,000 in fees to Blank Rome since 2004 to lobby Congress on a variety of issues. The first issue that’s listed is “a la carte pricing” for cable channels — linked to the very issues that Comcast and the NFL Network are fighting over. A well-known Republican insider, former Justice Department spokeswoman Barbara Comstock, has been one of Blank Rome‘s lobbyists on the Comcast account.[…] In looking like he’s standing up to the powerful NFL, it looks from this angle like Arlen Specter is instead a mere waterboy. And that bucket that he’s carrying belongs to Comcast. MORE