Director of ‘dark money’ group fighting T-Mobile merger with Sprint is a telecom lobbyist
As regulators examine T-Mobile’s proposed $26.5 billion acquisition of telecom giant Sprint, a mysterious “dark money” nonprofit with links to industry competitors is attempting to label the merger as a national security threat.
Protect America’s Wireless (PAW) was launched in October 2018 and immediately got to work attacking the merger, raising concerns that both companies have a history of using equipment from Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei.
Washington, D.C. incorporation records for Consumer Choice Alliance, the 501(c)(4) nonprofit sponsoring PAW, reveal that one of its directors was a lobbyist for some of T-Mobile’s top competitors in 2018.
Moses Mercado, a director of the Consumer Choice Alliance and chairman of a firm called Ogilvy Government Relations, lobbied on behalf of AT&T, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications in 2018 — continuing to represent AT&T and Verizon during the fourth quarter of the year as the dark money group got off the ground.no deposit bonus forex.org/news/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/https-corponline.dcra_.dc_.gov-BizEntity.aspx-ViewEntityData-entityId4224660.png” alt=”” width=”1203″ height=”582″ srcset=”https://www.no deposit bonus forex.org/news/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/https-corponline.dcra_.dc_.gov-BizEntity.aspx-ViewEntityData-entityId4224660.png 1203w, https://www.no deposit bonus forex.org/news/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/https-corponline.dcra_.dc_.gov-BizEntity.aspx-ViewEntityData-entityId4224660-300×145.png 300w, https://www.no deposit bonus forex.org/news/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/https-corponline.dcra_.dc_.gov-BizEntity.aspx-ViewEntityData-entityId4224660-768×372.png 768w, https://www.no deposit bonus forex.org/news/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/https-corponline.dcra_.dc_.gov-BizEntity.aspx-ViewEntityData-entityId4224660-1024×495.png 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 1203px) 100vw, 1203px”>
Mercado advocated for AT&T on “Issues related to the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger transaction” in the first quarter of 2018 as AT&T battled the Justice Department over its $85 billion acquisition.
AT&T paid Ogilvy $320,000 last year while Verizon and Comcast shelled out $160,000 and $240,000, respectively.
Mercado is also a foreign agent lobbying for the Qatari government, according to his $10,000-per-month contract with the Embassy of Qatar starting in 2018. Qatar was his firm’s top foreign client in 2018, with more than $1.18 million in payments exchanging hands. Mercado was unavailable for comment late on Friday.
Bloomberg recently explored PAW’s shyness when it comes to disclosing its funders, and the telecom connections don’t end with Mercado. It notes that Republican strategist Bradley Blakeman, a panelist for PAW during a press call, lobbied for Dish Network, a vocal opponent of the merger, and his business partner David Goodfriend is a lobbyist for Communications Workers of America, which openly opposes the deal.
Blakeman told Bloomberg he does not know who is behind PAW, while AT&T and Dish both denied funding the group. Verizon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Center for Responsive Politics.
Thomas McMahon, founding partner of NP Strategy Group — the firm effectively running PAW — is also listed as a director of Consumer Choice Alliance. The former executive director and CEO of the Democratic National Committee has a brief history as a foreign agent, working on behalf of the VMRO-DPMNE, a major political party in Macedonia.
The third director, Cara Morris Stern, also works for NP Strategy Group and was a foreign agent alongside McMahon on behalf of VMRO-DPMNE as recently as the start of 2016.
In response to T-Mobile CEO John Legere’s criticism of groups attacking the merger, Morris Stern told Bloomberg, on behalf of PAW, that “Legere cares a lot more about who’s funding Protect America’s Wireless than addressing real concerns about foreign ownership in T-Mobile’s proposed merger.” Bloomberg noted that Stern did not address the lobbyists’ connections to the group. She also did not mention her own role as a director of the dark money group.
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