Holland & Knight on Wednesday notified Congress that it is no longer lobbying for AT&T Inc., becoming the first firm to disclose that it ceased its government advocacy work for the company after the telecommunications provider dropped its planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA in December.
The firm said it concluded its advocacy work for AT&T on Dec. 31 – one day short of the third anniversary of the firm's lobbying relationship with the company, according to congressional records. Holland received $40,000 from AT&T for lobbying it did during the last three months of 2011 on telecommunications matters, including the proposed $39 billion transaction with T-Mobile.
AT&T paid Holland a total of $160,000 for advocacy work the firm conducted in 2011, which included lobbying members of the House and Senate. The sum is $40,000 less than the amount that the telecommunications provider gave Holland for lobbying the firm did in 2010 and 2009. Former Rep. Jim Davis (D-Fla.), a partner at the firm, and Holland senior policy adviser Karl Koch handled the account. Davis and Koch are based in Tampa.
Rich Gold, head of Holland’s public policy and regulation practice group in Washington, declined to comment. An AT&T spokesman didn’t have an immediate comment.
Almost three dozen firms submitted paperwork to Congress to advocate on behalf of AT&T in 2011. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Alston & Bird, Mayer Brown and Wiley Rein were among them.
AT&T spent $16 million on lobbying during the first three quarters of 2011, according to the most recent congressional records on the company’s lobbying expenses. The company reported $12.5 million in lobbying expenses accrued during that time in 2010.
The increase in lobbying spending came amid intense federal scrutiny over the proposed T-Mobile merger, which AT&T announced in March. The U.S Justice Department in August sued in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to block the planned acquisition, and the Federal Communications Commission released a report in November that was critical of the deal.
AT&T said in a Dec. 19 news release announcing its decision to abandon the merger that “customers will be harmed and needed investment will be stifled.”
“The mobile Internet is a dynamic industry that can be a critical driver in restoring American economic growth and job creation, but only if companies are allowed to react quickly to customer needs and market forces,” AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said in the news release.