Oct 7, 2021 - Politics

AT&T quietly becomes powerhouse in conservative politics

The AT&T building in downtown Dallas, immersed in a creeping fog.

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Dallas-based AT&T is taking heat for the company's contributions to the conservative politicians who passed Texas’ unpopular abortion bill.

Why it matters: AT&T, the world's largest communications company, has quietly become a powerful player in conservative politics.

  • The corporation is one of the top donors to the sponsors of Texas' abortion ban. Since 2018, the company has donated $301,000 to the bill's sponsors, according to popular.info.
  • AT&T is also the primary source of funding for One America News, a network that spreads conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the COVID-19 pandemic, a Reuters investigation revealed.
  • AT&T-owned television platforms account for 90% of OAN's revenue, according to 2020 sworn testimony by an OAN accountant.

The latest: This week the Dallas Morning News rejected an ad from a Democratic Super PAC that criticized the telecom giant.

  • Text in the unpublished ad reads: "AT&T helped fund the anti-abortion politicians who wrote the dangerous law."

What they're saying: "For too long, companies have gotten away with lip service around empowering women, while simultaneously financing the anti-abortion extremists who wrote this bill, causing a reproductive health crisis in Texas," Julie McClain Downey, vice president of the Super PAC American Bridge, told CNBC.

The other side: "We have never taken a position on the issue of abortion, and the Texas legislation was no exception," an AT&T spokesperson told Axios. "We did not endorse nor support passage of Senate Bill 8 in the Texas legislature. Our employee political action committees have never based contribution decisions on a legislator's positions on the issue of abortion, and employee PAC contributions to Texas legislators went to both opponents and supporters of Senate Bill 8."

The bottom line: Getting AT&T's money out of the coffers of Republican politicians and conservative media would be a boon for Democrats running for office in 2022.


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