Some advocacy lobbyists that claim to represent consumer interests are backed by none other than phone and cable companies promoting their corporate agendas, says a report from nonprofit consumer group Common Cause. Consumers for Cable Choice, which pushes for laws to let phone companies roll out TV service easily, admits receiving financial support from Verizon and AT&T. Common Cause labels such groups as "astroturf," falsely purporting to represent grassroots interests. The Common Cause report says, "these corporation-backed groups are shamelessly working to convince Congress that there is widespread public and scholarly support for their policy proposals." Verizon and AT&T spokesmen said they openly encourage the efforts and align themselves with consumer and related organizations supporting video choice reforms.
Center for Digital Democracy Executive Director Jeff Chester points out that policymakers often have no idea that the lobbying groups are affiliated with corporations when they receive letters and hear testimony from them. It's politics as usual, but it sure sounds dirty.