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About Face: From public interest to corporate interest

May 26, 2010

Comcast Corp., as it tries to convince the government to approve its proposed buyout of NBC-Universal, spent about $6.6 million on overall lobbying in the fourth quarter of 2009 and first quarter of 2010.

Its legal team includes several former top FCC media lawyers. Among its top lobbyists are 78 former government employees, including Joe Trahern, a recent in-house hire who once worked for Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Tom Daschle of South Dakota. Fifty-four of the lobbyists are working specifically on the merger while another 14 might be.

General Electric, owner of NBC-Universal, has 19 ex-government workers lobbying for the deal, including former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.

What follows is a sampling of former high-level government employees lobbying the merger. Lobbying figures are totals for the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010.

Ex-FCC attorneys working for the merger

Name FCC job Corporate job
Rudy Brioché From 2005 to 2009, legal adviser on media issues to outspoken foe of big media, former Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein Senior director of external affairs and public policy counsel, Comcast Corp.
James Casserly Senior legal adviser to ex-FCC commissioner Susan Ness Representing Comcast Corp. at law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Rick C. Chessen Senior legal adviser and adviser on media issues to Copps until last year Senior vice president of law and regulatory policy for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. Chessen "manages" the NCTA’s relationship with the FCC.
Jordan Goldstein Senior legal adviser and senior adviser on all media issues to anti-merger Commissioner Michael Copps from 2001 to 2006 Senior director of regulatory affairs, Comcast Corp.
Richard Metzger Jr. Common Carrier Bureau chief until 1998 Represents General Electric at law firm Lawler, Metzger, Keeney & Logan, LLC
Natalie Roisman
Media Bureau attorney
Represents NBC Universal at law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP
David Solomon
Enforcement Bureau chief
Represents NBC Universal at law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP
Bryan Tramont
Chief of staff and senior legal adviser to ex-chairman Michael Powell
Represents NBC Universal at law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP

Ex-government employees working for the merger

Name Government job Corporate job Firm’s lobbying billings to Comcast:
Makan Delrahim Deputy assistant attorney general of Department of Justice Antitrust Division. Chief counsel and staff director of Senate Judiciary Committee Lobbyist for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, representing Comcast Corp. in merger $80,000
James Flood
Counsel to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on the Judiciary Committee.
Lobbyist for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, representing Comcast Corp. in merger $80,000
Allen P. Grunes Spent more than 10 years at DOJ Antitrust Division, working on mergers in radio, television, newspapers and films Lobbyist for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, working on merger issues for client Comcast Corp. $80,000
Christopher Putala
Professional staff member for the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1989 to 1998
Lobbyist for Putala Strategies, working on the merger issues for client Comcast Corp.
$80,000
Carlyle Thorsen
Worked for former Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas. Deputy assistant attorney general at DOJ and counsel to House Judiciary Committee
Lobbied on merger issues with The Thorsen Group LLC
$50,000
David Urban
Chief of staff for former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., until 2002
Lobbyist for American Continental Group, working on the merger issues for client Comcast Corp.
$80,000

Sources: Senate Office of Public Records, Federal Communications Commission, websites of private law and lobbying firms and other sources.

Graphic research by John Dunbar and Mia Steinle, Investigative Reporting Workshop.



Mia Steinle contributed to this story.