Comcast ghost-wrote politicians' letters in support of Time Warner Cable merger

Letters sent to the FCC in favor of Comcast's proposed Time Warner Cable merger came from Mayor Jere Wood of Roswell, GA; Councilor Todd Wodraska of Jupiter, FL; Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown and many other politicians — all written in whole or part by Comcast's staffers and lobbyists.

These were part of what Comcast called an "outpouring of thoughtful and positive comments." Many of the politicians who wrote in support of the merger are also recipients of campaign funds from Comcast. Other politicians wrote letters that contained Comcast's talking points, but there is no other evidence that Comcast ghost-wrote their letters; these include Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the governors of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Hawaii, Colorado, Maryland, and Vermont.

More prominent officials with histories of receiving campaign money from Comcast — like Oregon's Democratic Secretary of State Kate Brown — also recently sent personal letters to the FCC supporting the merger.

Records obtained by The Verge show that Secretary of State Brown's letter to the agency was almost wholly written by a Comcast Government Affairs specialist. After a conversation with Brown's staff, the Comcast official sent Brown a letter he had prewritten for her that even included her typed sign-off, name, and title. Brown's office sent the Comcast document — containing just three sentences with new or altered language — to the FCC emblazoned with the official seal of the State of Oregon.

Since 2008, Comcast has contributed nearly $10,000 to Brown's two campaigns for secretary of state. Neither Comcast nor the state of Oregon made any attempt tell the public of the corporation's role in authoring Brown's letter. Brown's communications director told The Verge that Brown was too busy to be interviewed. (Neither Wood nor Todd Wodraska, the councilman from Jupiter, Florida, accepted requests to speak to The Verge about the letters they sent the FCC. Rosemary Harold did not respond to multiple interview requests.)

Exclusive: politicians are supporting Comcast's TWC merger with letters ghostwritten by Comcast [Spencer Woodman/The Verge]

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