AT&T Peels Off Layer of Political Spending Secrecy — Thanks to Pushy Investors and the Michael Cohen Fiasco

AT&T is bowing to activist shareholders calling for more transparency about the company's political spending, agreeing to disclose millions of dollars in previously untraceable contributions after last year's embarrassment over payments to President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen.For the first time, AT&T is divulging some contributions to outside groups that keep their donors secret, providing a fuller, if still incomplete, picture of the Dallas-based telecom giant's vast spending on state and federal politics. A new report released by the company details payments totaling about $4.2 million to industry groups and think tanks that was used for lobbying during a portion of last year.But even with the additional information, the public still would not have known about AT&T's relationship with Cohen — Trump's longtime fixer — who was paid $600,000 by the company to advise on various matters, including its then-pending mega-merger with Time Warner. AT&T said Cohen did no lobbying on its behalf.The disclosure is the product of a years-long shareholder campaign and allows AT&T to avoid a proxy fight at its April 26 annual shareholder meeting. For the past five years, AT&T had advised investors to vote against nonbinding proposals asking for a report on lobby payments to outside groups.  Continue reading...

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