Brown letter to FCC nearly verbatim from Comcast

Political science professor Ben Gaskins said "politicians don't publicize that they're doing it"

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown in her office in Salem, Oct. 14, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown in her office in Salem, Oct. 14, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown sent a letter to the FCC urging approval of the proposed merger between Comcast, Time Warner and Charter Cable.

The letter is almost word-for-word from a draft letter submitted to her by Doug Cooley, who works in Government Affairs for Comcast.

“So sorry for the delay but I’ve drafted some ideas below from our conversation about a supportive letter to the FCC,” Cooley began in his correspondence with Brown. “I’ve also attached filing instructions in hopes of making the process a little easier.  Of course, feel free to modify as you see fit and thanks again!”

Brown sent the letter, with minor modifications, to Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the FCC, on August 25, 2014.

On the left, the draft letter written by Doug Cooley of Comcast Government Affairs. On the right, the letter submitted by Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown on August. 25, 2014
On the left, the draft letter written by Doug Cooley of Comcast Government Affairs. On the right, the letter submitted by Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown on August. 25, 2014

Ben Gaskins, a political science professor at Lewis & Clark, said the practice may not be uncommon, but “politicians don’t publicize that they’re doing it.”

I think it definitely looks bad when a politician, especially if they have been given campaign contributions by a company, verbatim writes a letter on behalf of that company,” Gaskins said.

Comcast donated $10,000 to Brown’s campaigns between 2006 and 2011. However, groups like Nike donated much more.

Gaskins doesn’t think people should be all that concerned about this. “I think politicians do this a great bit,” he said.

The online tech journal The Verge published a report pointing out several lawmakers across the country sent similar letters written almost entirely written for them.

Brown declined an interview with KOIN 6 News on the topic, but issued a statement through her spokesperson:

“Secretary Brown was asked by Comcast if she would agree to send a letter vouching for the company’s community service in Oregon. She was familiar with the work, especially Comcast’s efforts to close the digital divide at Roosevelt High School, so she agreed. The letter was based on a conversation between Secretary Brown and Comcast.”

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