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Rochester City Councilman Adam McFadden’s Love for Comcast (and the $50k)

Phillip Dampier August 11, 2014 Comcast/Xfinity, Consumer News, Editorial & Site News, Public Policy & Gov't 5 Comments
McFadden

McFadden

Rochester city councilman Adam McFadden wrote a gushing letter in support of the merger deal between Comcast and Time Warner Cable published today on the N.Y. Public Service Commission website that doesn’t come close to fully disclosing the financial ties between Comcast and a lobbying group he presides over, funded in part by Comcast.

I write to you today from one of our state’s and the country’s oldest centers for enterprise and industry, Rochester. I am proud to represent my lifelong home as City Councilman for the South District. The proposed transaction between Time Warner Cable and Comcast has attracted a lot of attention here in New York, and deserves to be fully considered. I write to you today to urge your approval of the transaction so that Rochester residents, and New Yorkers across the state, can be empowered by Comcast’s innovative and dedicated service.

My area is currently served by Time Warner Cable, but would receive Comcast coverage following the approval of the transaction. I am lucky to represent my community not just locally, but on the national stage. Through my experience with the National League of Cities, and as the vice president of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, I’ve heard about Comcast’s track record of serving the public good in communities like mine.

We don’t doubt for a moment McFadden has “heard” about Comcast. McFadden is listed as president of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials’ Board of Directors, a group whose website is emblazoned with Comcast’s logo as a generous “capstone partner” of the NBC-LEO and National League of Cities. Capstone partners must give an “annual investment” of at least $50,000. In fact, Comcast isn’t just a passive member of the group McFadden helps to run. Ron Orlando, senior director of Comcast’s lobbying/government affairs department sits on the group’s “Corporate Partners Leadership Council Roster.”

“The Council shares the perspectives of the corporate and not-for-profit sectors and makes recommendations for activities that promote the exchange of ideas between corporate and city leaders,” claims the website.

That is a nice way of saying corporate sponsors can use the group as a front to insert its corporate agenda into the public dialogue, while avoiding disclosure it is, in fact, pulling the strings. Capstone members get plenty of face time with the group… in private, through “exclusive access to the voluntary leadership and targeted member groups at NLC conferences and special VIP events.

But our favorite is allowing corporate members access to discounted mailing lists maintained by the NLC that left companies directly target elected and career officials in all cities with a population greater than 10,000 to spread their talking points.

McFadden’s constituents might be wondering whether he represents their interests or Comcast when he pens a letter to New York regulators urging them to allow an unpopular merger between two colossal cable companies. McFadden didn’t write his letter under the name(s) of the two groups that have direct financial ties to Comcast. He wrote it in his role as a city councilman.

We consider it highly unethical that McFadden did not disclose the strong direct financial ties between Comcast and the organizations he represents and has not exactly trumpeted his full-throated support for the cable merger deal among his constituents, who probably like Time Warner Cable and Comcast a lot less than he does. But then, $50,000 a year can bring a lot of goodwill if your group is getting the check.

[Update 1:30pm 8/12: We are told Mr. McFadden has denied knowledge of the $50k and claims he wrote the letter because he “hates Time Warner Cable.” Nice try. Follow the links and get back to us about how we could find this information in about 10 minutes and you couldn’t. If you hated Time Warner, you will despise Comcast… but then there is that $50,000 annually to think about…. – PMD”]

Currently there are 5 comments on this Article:

  1. Michael says:

    Adam McFadden loves Time Warner so much he doesn’t even use it! https://twitter.com/RUN_AMC/status/435088777589964801

    • This isn’t about Time Warner Cable, It’s about Comcast. I noticed he attempted a non-denial denial claiming he wrote the letter because he doesn’t like TWC. Nice try.

      We’ve been to this rodeo many times before. McFadden has yet to deny that the group he oversees receives substantial financial support from Comcast, that Comcast has sent its donor recipients talking points and instructions for submitting comments to N.Y. regulators, and that a Comcast lobbyist sits on his board.

      A word to the wise: we’ve tracked these kinds of things for more than five years now, so if he lies or obfuscates, we’re going to find out.

      • Michael says:

        I think you mistake what I posted as support of McFadden. The man is very shady. Keep up the good work.

        • No I knew what you meant. 🙂

          My reply was more for those, including McFadden himself, who might rush into denials without realizing we have the goods to back up what we say.

  2. Scott says:

    For $50,000.00 I could pay a lot of Comcast service calls and overage fees with money left over for a few pay per view shows to make it affordable enough to hate Time Warner too…

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