Verizon is not just a case study of what’s wrong with our economy – it’s also a classic example of what’s wrong with our politics.
A couple of years ago, the Sunlight Foundation investigated 200 of America’s most “politically active” corporations, and how much each one received in federal contracts and financial support. Verizon was #14 on their list. Look at the report and do the math yourself. Less than $100 million in political spending, and they received $3.5 billion back from the federal government… which would mean Verizon got about $35 back for every dollar of political spending. And that’s just in federal contracts and federal financial support.
But their lobbying has had other benefits, too. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Verizon spent about $12 million on federal lobbying last year. They had 98 federal lobbyists promoting the corporation’s interests on issues including immigration, international trade, healthcare and the environment. But the leading issue was taxes. LOTS of lobbying on taxes. (See it all here.) Which might explain the corporation’s federal tax rate. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, Verizon’s effective federal tax rate is… negative.
And that’s just at the federal level. Verizon has a business segment of “State and Local Government Solutions.”
The National Institute on Money in State Politics shows more than $22 million in political contributions from Verizon-affiliated organizations to candidates for state and local office. (Who knew? Verizon has “Good Government Clubs” in California, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania and Virginia. “Clubs” ??!?)
Can’t help but notice Verizon’s recent press release: “Verizon selected as provider on $150 million Commonwealth of Virginia network and communications contract.” The National Institute on Money in State Politics tracks $3 million in political contributions to Virginia politicians. Can’t help but wonder if there’s a connection.
(Can’t help but wonder how many other states would show the same pattern, if anyone took the time to look.)
Meanwhile – can’t help but notice – the corporation is racking up OSHA violations and FCC penalties and financial redress via the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers are now on strike, after working without a contract since last August. Read more NHLN coverage here.