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A New York Lawmaker Copied Comcast's Merger Talking Points Word-for-Word A New York Lawmaker Copied Comcast's Merger Talking Points Word-for-Wo...

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A New York Lawmaker Copied Comcast's Merger Talking Points Word-for-Word

Assembly Leader Joe Morelle pulled quotes from Comcast statements.

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(Getty Images)

A top New York state lawmaker lifted quotes directly from Comcast talking points for a letter supporting the cable company's planned purchase of Time Warner Cable.

Earlier this month, state Assembly Leader Joe Morelle sent a letter to the New York State Public Service Commission, urging the regulatory agency to approve the deal. Almost every sentence in the letter mirrors Comcast statements in either congressional testimony or press releases.

 

The advocacy group Stop the Cap, which is lobbying against the deal, spotted the similarities Thursday and accused the lawmaker of plagiarism.

"Morelle evidently ignored or was unaware of his constituents' overwhelming opposition to the merger deal and seemed unfazed about Comcast's long record of dreadful customer service, constant rate increases, and the company's plan to reimplement usage limits on consumer broadband accounts," the group wrote.

Sean Hart, a spokesman for Morelle, acknowledged that Comcast asked the Assembly leader to write the letter. It's "standard," Hart said, for companies to provide template letters to politicians when asking for their support.

 

"We made several edits to that letter but more or less kept the body of that letter, the main points we agreed with," he explained.

The lawmaker supports the deal because he believes it will improve Internet access in upstate New York, Hart said. But he denied the plagiarism charge, saying it's only plagiarism if an author uses another person's work without permission.

"Morelle has authorization from Comcast to use the language included in his letter," the spokesman said. Examples of identical or similar text include:

Morelle's letter of Aug. 8:

 

"The combination of Comcast and Time Warner Cable will create a world-class communications, media and technology company to help meet the increasing consumer demand for advanced digital services on multiple devices in homes, workplaces and on-the-go."

Comcast executive David Cohen's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 9:

"The combination of Comcast and TWC will create a world-class communications, media, and technology company to help meet the insatiable consumer demand for advanced digital services on multiple devices in homes, workplaces, and on-the-go."

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Morelle:

"Comcast has a proven record of investing in new technologies, facilities and customer support to provide the best in broadband Internet access, video and digital voice services."

Cohen:

"Comcast has a proven record of investing in new technologies, facilities, and customer support to provide the best in broadband Internet access, video, and digital voice services."

Morelle:

"Similarly, TWC has made significant strides in offering a diverse array of video, broadband, and voice services to its customers."

Cohen:

"Similarly, TWC has made significant strides in offering a diverse array of video, broadband, and voice services to its customers."

A Comcast spokesperson said the company has been "been reaching out to policy makers around the country to detail the public interest benefits of our transaction with Time Warner Cable."

"When policy makers indicate they'd like to support our transaction in public filings, we've provided them with information on the transaction, including our past public statements and testimony," the spokesperson said. "All filings are ultimately decided upon by the filers, not Comcast."

According to public disclosures, the cable company donated $1,000 to Morelle's campaign in January. Time Warner Cable has donated $5,500 to the lawmaker's political campaigns since 2011.

—This post was updated with a comment from Comcast.

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