Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission in May endorsing the proposed merger between telecommunications companies T-Mobile and AT&T, a marriage the Justice Department went to court on Wednesday to block.
In the May 25 letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and the other commissioners, the GOP presidential candidate urged approval of the controversial megadeal on behalf of a home-state company. AT&T is headquartered in Dallas. T-Mobile is owned by a German telecommunications company.
“I believe that this merger will continue to provide for great consumer choice, offer a wide range of service options, and spur continued innovation,” Perry wrote. “The future rests in wireless broadband, and the federal government's swift approval of the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile would send a strong signal to employers, consumers, and states that our federal government is serious about meeting the communication and technology needs of Texans and all Americans.” Perry cited "the commitment of at least an additional $8 billion in private investment over seven years as a result of this merger" as a reason to support the deal.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department sued to block the merger. “We believe the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would result in tens of millions of consumers all across the United States facing higher prices, fewer choices, and lower-quality products for their mobile wireless services,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole said.
Over the past decade, AT&T’s political action committee has given Perry more than $500,000, according to the Texas Ethics Commission’s records. Those contributions already have Democrats on the offensive.
“This is just one more example of Rick Perry’s pay-to-play network that represents the same old type of lobbyist-first politics. He might try to pretend to be some outsider, but as his record continues to come to light, the American people will see right through his facade,” said Ty Matsdorf, spokesman for American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic opposition research organization.
Perry spokesman Mark Miner defended his boss's actions.
"AT&T is a highly regarded Texas-based company, creating thousands of good American jobs and providing critical communications services worldwide," Miner said in a statement to National Journal. "Gov. Perry believes the combination of the two telecom companies will be good for consumers, good for technology innovation, and good for American job creation."
In his letter, Perry writes that the competitive wireless marketplace has benefited from “a light regulatory touch,” and, in a prelude to what has become a central theme of his presidential campaign, boasted of his state's "strong, diversified economy and business-friendly policies."