Like nearly all large businesses today, Comcast Corporation (NYSE:CMCSA) is actively involved in political lobbying, and lobbying can take a wide variety of guises. Take for example a six-figure donation to a charity dinner for FCC Commissioner Mignon F. Clyburne — is it really just a donation to the annual Walter Kaitz Foundation dinner or does the cable giant have ulterior motives given its pending merger with Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC)?
Controversy over donation
A number of media outlets questioned Comcast’s large donation to an even honoring an FCC Commissioner, creating a public relations situation for the firm.
Of note, Comcast Corporation (NYSE:CMCSA) donated $140,000 USD, $145,000 USD, and $122,500 USD to the Walter Kaitz Foundation dinner in 2013, 2012, and 2011, respectively. Moreover, as the guest of honor at the dinner, the name of the firm will be prominently displayed, and may invite up to 40 guests.
Time Warner Cable also donated $22,000 to the Kaitz Foundation dinner.
Walter Kaitz Foundation dinner
The Walter Kaitz Foundation’s annual dinner is scheduled for mid-September. The organization’s mission is “to advance the contributions of women and multi-ethnic professionals in cable”, and according to knowledgeable sources, will give the “diversity advocate” award to FCC Commissioner Clyburne for her distinguished career, including her work at the FCC and at the Public Service Commission of South Carolina.
Statement from Comcast
Comcast Corporation (NYSE:CMCSA) released a statement in response to the controversy over the large donation. “We’ve given at the highest level for several years. We are the industry leader—in our size and in our commitment to diversity—and it is important that we reflect that in our financial support of the Kaitz Foundation. As the industry has consolidated over time, especially after we became the largest operator in 2003, and then again with acquiring NBC Universal in 2011, we’ve taken a larger role in giving to Kaitz.
The identity of the honorees is irrelevant to our long standing financial commitments. We absolutely dispute the notion that our contributions have anything to do with currying favor with Commissioner Clyburn or any honoree. Such claims are insulting and not supported by any evidence. They are purely fiction.”