|Westin Kierland Resort, Scottsdale, AZ|
Last week I posted a couple of pieces on AT&T, Rep. Jim Beckett (R - Bruce), and the legislation Beckett authored that would remove the Public Service Commission's oversight of AT&T. (Posts here and here.) The Sun-Herald then picked up the story, complete with a reference to Rep. Beckett having taken $2,500.00 in campaign contributions from AT&T over the years.
Well, let's dig a little deeper.
I've posted on the American Legislative Exchange Council ("ALEC") a bit over the law few weeks, since their model legislation keeps popping up in our Legislature under the new Republican regime. (Posts here, here, here, and here.) I've mentioned before that ALEC is run by a "Private Enterprise Board" that includes AT&T as one of its members, but there's more to it than that.
It turns out that ALEC's Mississippi state chairman is none other than AT&T's own Randy Russell. Russell, a Jackson-based lobbyist, has represented telecommunication interests for years. Prior to BellSouth being purchased by AT&T, Russell was BellSouth's lobbyist. Russell continued that role for AT&T after the acquisition. (View Randy Russell's lobbyist registration forms for BellSouth/AT&T from 2001-2010 here.)
So, that made it all the more interesting to go through AT&T's lobbying report for 2011. It seems that Russell and AT&T picked up the food tab for Rep. Jim Beckett and his wife at the ALEC meeting in at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, AZ from November 30 to December 2, 2011. AT&T also paid for a few rounds of golf for Rep. Beckett while there. All said and done, AT&T paid $565.39 to cover expenses for Rep. Beckett and his wife on their three day trip to Scottsdale.
But that's not all. AT&T also picked up the tab for $151.70 worth of food and tickets while Rep. Beckett and his wife were at the Spring ALEC meeting in Cincinnati, OH in late April of 2011. AT&T also paid $22.62 for food for Rep. Beckett and his wife while he attended the 2011 Summer ALEC meeting in New Orleans.
The total amount AT&T gave to Rep. Jim Beckett and his wife in 2011 through Randy Russell? $876.85. The names of the Becketts appear a total of 36 times in AT&T's 2011 lobbying report, most of it while the Becketts are at ALEC retreats.
More to come...