As the Senate Judiciary Committee reviews Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable for potential violations of antitrust laws, a new report has surfaced suggesting that every member of the Senate panel has received campaign donations from the company in question.
According to Ars Technica, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., received $35,000 from Comcast’s PAC between 2009 and 2014, while Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., received $32,500 and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, received $30,000.
Even the most vocal anti-Comcast committee member, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has received a donation from the corporation in the past. According to the Los Angeles Times, a Comcast PAC donated $5,000 to Franken’s recount fund during his contested election a few years ago. Still, the senator and former Saturday Night Live member was a vocal critic of the Comcast-NBC deal that was going on around that time.
Because of his brother’s involvement with drafting the acquisition deal, Schumer, the individual who has received the most donations from Comcast-related PACs, recently recused himself from the judiciary review.
Opponents of the merger are wary of what will happen to prices once a dominating company controls the majority of cable and telecommunications services. Comcast continues to argue its side of the case, one that's likely supported by the $18.8 million it reportedly spent on lobbying last year.
Apple’s merger and acquisitions chief Adrian Perica and Tesla Motor’s chief executive Elon Musk met last year, suggesting that the iPhone maker may expand its business to electric cars.
Considering Apple has announced plans to better integrate iOS into car dashboard screens and has partnered with Ferrari, it seems likely that the Silicon Valley giant would be interested in Tesla.
The meeting was reported Sunday by The San Francisco Chronicle, which cited an anonymous source. The paper also noted that Apple is interested in medical devices, specifically those that can predict heart attacks.
Apple’s interest in electric cars and medical devices signal that the company wants to expand and take risks beyond the iPad and iPhone, as Wall Street analysts have speculated in the past.
Adnaan Ahmad, an investment bank analyst in Germany, wrote an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook in October suggesting that Apple buy Tesla. He argued that the electric car industry could provide long-term revenue growth unlike smartphones and tablets.
“I know this is radical and potentially 'transformative',” Ahmad wrote, “but this would radically alter Apple's growth profile.”
Neither Tesla nor Apple have commented on the alleged merger.
In what could possibly result in the world’s largest airline carrier, American Airlines and U.S. Airways are seeking approval to merge. Currently, American Airlines is the third largest American airline while U.S. Airways ranks at number five.
However, first the airlines are seeking approval for their $11 billion merger from the European Union. The European Commission announced today it would release its decision by July 23. The investigation, however, could be extended for up to three months if the commission deems it necessary.
The merger has caught the attention of two senators who wrote a public letter urging Attorney General Eric Holder and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to scrutinize the deal. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., are concerned that the joint venture will overly distort the market.
"We need to make sure consumers have as many choices as possible at the lowest prices, and that no airline or small group of airlines has a stranglehold on the market,” Klobuchar said, who is chair of the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee.
Her letter mentions that the merger would allow the joint company control more than 70 percent of the passenger gates at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. In accordance with federal antitrust law, she recommends the airlines be forced to give up some of its gates.
However, larger airlines can afford to fly to less populated cities and smaller airports. On the other hand, allowing the merger risks the possibility of artificially high prices. The merger would save American Airlines whose parent company, AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy. This would preserve and stand to create countless jobs.
Later today the Senate will hold a hearing on the consequences of airline consolidation.