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Monday, April 28, 2014

Comcast Money

The New York Times profiles David L. Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast:
“So I go to see Senator Booker,” he says at one point, talking about Cory Booker, the Democratic former mayor of Newark. “I’ve known him since before he was mayor.” He refers to John Hickenlooper, the Colorado governor, a Democrat, as “another friend of mine.” He says Eric Cantor, the Republican House majority leader, “has become a very good personal friend.”
“We spend 50 percent of our time talking about Israel, 40 percent talking about our wives and families, and maybe 10 percent talking about cable industry issues,” Mr. Cohen says of Mr. Cantor. “And maybe 1 percent of that is Comcast.”
Mr. Cohen estimates that since he joined Comcast, he and his wife, Rhonda, have made personal contributions to political candidates that total in “the high six figures, or maybe low seven figures. It’s somewhere in that universe.” The three fund-raisers he hosted for President Obama in Philadelphia, two of them at his house, raised more than $10 million.
Mr. Cohen is not registered as a lobbyist the rules require it only for those who spend at least 20 percent of their time lobbying — and he bristles when he is referred to as one. Because of his association with Mr. Rendell, who also served two terms as Pennsylvania’s governor, and now President Obama, many assume he is a straight-down-the-line Democrat. He says that was never the case — he grew up with Republican parents and was one of what he believes to have been four Republican students at Swarthmore during his time there — but the rightward drift of the party drove him away, and for many years the bulk of his giving was to Democrats.
His giving and fund-raising on behalf of candidates is now split more evenly, though it still tilts toward Democrats. (The same is true of the money that Comcast gives through its political action committee — as well as of the political contributions made by most of its top executives, including Mr. Roberts.)
“My priorities in political giving are Comcast priorities,” Mr. Cohen says. “I don’t kid myself. My goals are to support the interests of the company.”