Politico Op-ed Pushing Telecom Merger Has Big Conflict Of Interest

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

On May 26, Politico published an op-ed by Henry M. Rivera, a former FCC commissioner and partner at the law firm Wiley Rein, promoting the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. Specifically, Rivera writes that the merger is a "market-based solution" to increased demand for wireless internet access that will benefit minorities in particular: "Given that minority communities rely on wireless services as their primary means for Internet access, the merger should offer these communities greater accessibility to reliable services."

Politico identified Rivera as a partner at Wiley Rein, but they failed to note that Wiley Rein is representing Deutsche Telekom -- T-Mobile's parent company -- in their push to have the Justice Department approve the merger with AT&T.

The Washington Post reported on March 27:

The details of the corporate deal were hammered out by teams of lawyers at the New York firms Sullivan & Cromwell and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, which represented AT&T and Deutsche Telekom respectively. Now, the focus of the two companies will shift to Washington. Antitrust specialists at four firms are already working diligently to pave the way for approval from both the Justice Department, which will consider whether the merger will create a duopoly, and the Federal Communications Commission, which will have to approve the transfer of T-Mobile's spectrum license.


Deutsche Telekom turned to local attorneys at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Wiley Rein for regulatory help. At Cleary, the team is being led by Mark W. Nelson and George S. Cary. Nelson previously worked on T-Mobile's $2.4 billion acquisition of SunCom Wireless in 2007. Cary is a former deputy director in the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition, which is responsible for the enforcement of mergers. At Wiley, Richard E. Wiley, head of the firm's 80-strong communications practice and former FCC chairman, is spearheading the effort with partners R. Michael Senkowski, Nancy J. Victory and Eric W. DeSilva.

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