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Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.

Campaign to Fix the Debt
Company Profile
Company Name AT&T
CEO Name Randall Stephenson
CEO Compensation $22,018,334
CEO Retirement Assets $47,001,565
Underfunded Company Pension -$10,203,000,000
Annual Company Revenue $126,723,000,000
Tax Dodger ('08-'10) 8.0%
Federal Lobbying/Political Donations ('09-'12*) $64,384,751
Click here for sources.
2011 data unless otherwise noted.
©2013 Center for Media and Democracy

AT&T is a global telecommunications and networking company that operates in more than 225 countries worldwide.[1] The company is divided into AT&T Business Services and AT&T Consumer Services. In 2005, SBC Communications Inc. (formerly the Southwestern Bell Corporation) bought AT&T Corp., creating the largest telecommunications company in the U.S. In 2006, AT&T purchased BellSouth for $86 billion in the largest telecommunications takeover in U.S. history. Cingular Wireless became into AT&T Mobility, which is a subsidiary of AT&T and the country's largest wireless carrier.[2]

"Since 1998, the company has given more money in campaign contributions than any other firm in corporate America," according to the Washington Post.[3] It is the 16th highest spender on lobbying, having spent a total of $169,935,644 between 1998 and 2014, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.[4]

In 2013, AT&T reported total revenues of $128.752 billion.[5] Randall L. Stephenson, the company's CEO, received a salary of $23,247,167 in that year.[6]

Ties to Pete Peterson's "Fix the Debt"

The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem."

This article is part of the Center for Media and Democracy's investigation of Pete Peterson's Campaign to "Fix the Debt." Please visit our main SourceWatch page on Fix the Debt.

About Fix the Debt
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." Through a special report and new interactive wiki resource, the Center for Media and Democracy -- in partnership with the Nation magazine -- exposes the funding, the leaders, the partner groups, and the phony state "chapters" of this astroturf supergroup. Learn more at and in the Nation magazine.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

AT&T is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and was on ALEC's corporate "Private Enterprise" Board as of 2016. William Leahy, Vice President of State and Legislative Affairs for AT&T, represented the corporation on ALEC's corporate board from 2011-2016.[7][8][9] AT&T was the State corporate co-chair of Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas as of 2011.[10] The company was a "Vice Chair"-level sponsor of the 2016 ALEC Annual Conference.[11]

A list of ALEC Corporations can be found here.

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Ted Mullenix, CEO of lobbying firm Mullenix & Associates[12] and widely considered Arkansas' top lobbyist,[13] represents AT&T at ALEC as the Arkansas state chair[10] alongside Rep. Linda Collins-Smith (D) and Sen. Michael Lamoureux (R)[14] Pete Hernandez, Executive Director of Legislative Affairs at AT&T,[15] represents AT&T as the California state chair[10] alongside Sen. Joel C. Anderson (R).[14] John Emra, Executive Director of External Affairs for AT&T's Connecticut operations,[16] represents AT&T as the Connecticut state chair[10] alongside Rep. DebraLee Hovey (R) and Sen. Kevin Witkos (R).[14] Daniel Wilson represents AT&T as the Louisiana state chair[10] alongside Rep. George Cromer (R) and Rep. Joe Harrison (R-51).[14] Randal Russell, Executive Director of Bell South,[17] represents AT&T as the Mississippi state chair[10] alongside Rep. Jim Ellington (R).[14] Holly Reed, Senior Vice President of External Affairs at AT&T,[18] represents AT&T as the Texas state chair[10] alongside Rep. Charlie Howard (R), Rep. Jim Jackson (R) and Sen. Kel Seliger (R)

AT&T was also a "Chairman" level sponsor of ALEC's 38th Annual Conference in 2011[19] (at a rate of $50,000 as of 2010)[20] and a member of the Louisiana Host Committee.[20]

Jim Epperson, Jr., the Senior Vice President of AT&T, is the former chairman of the "Private Enterprise Board.[21]

Randall L. Stephenson, President and CEO of AT&T, spoke to ALEC on August 5, 2010; see the video here. [22]

AT&T has used ALEC model legislation to its advantage to prevent public utilities from laying fiber-optic cables to provide high-speed internet access. At ALEC's annual meeting in Orlando in 2002, a model bill that created significant hurdles for public utilities interested in funding fiber-optic cables. The bill originated in Utah, where two telecom companies lobbied for the set of bullet points upon which the bill was based. Greg Curtis, the Republican assistant majority whip in Utah at the time who was lobbied, could not remember exactly which companies had provided the bullet points, but suspected that one of them was AT&T. [23]

The ALEC model bill has since been passed in six states. It was adopted in the state of Louisiana at State Bill 877, and has played a crucial role in preventing public utilities from laying fiber-optic networks. After the bill was passed, BellSouth (which is now owned by AT&T) and Cox Communications used litigation to try to derail a fiber-optic project in Lafayette. They demanded that a referendum take place on the project, which the bill suggests, and BellSouth orchestrated an extensive ad campaign to convince the public that the project shouldn't go through. In addition, Cox paid for a telephone poll that suggested that a public utility might "ration" television. The two companies also filed a lawsuit to prevent the city from issuing bonds to finance the project. Since the passage of the bill, no other municipality has attempted to use a public utility to lay fiber-optic cables. [23]

Attempted 2011 Acquisition of T-Mobile

In March 2011, AT&T CEO Randall L. Stephenson announced a proposed $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA Inc. (a division of Deutsche Telekom Ag.).[24] The deal was halted by regulators, who in an August 2011 antitrust lawsuit filed by the Justice Department and U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, argued that the deal would " substantially lessen competition for mobile wireless telecommunications services across the United States, resulting in higher prices, poorer quality services, fewer choices and fewer innovative products for the millions of American consumers who rely on mobile wireless services in their everyday lives."[25][26]

In November 2011, AT&T "took a $4 billion write-down to cover the breakup fee it must pay to Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile’s parent", according to the Washington Post.[27] On December 19, 2011, AT&T ended its bid to acquire T-Mobile.[28]

AT&T reported $6.7 billion in losses for the 4th quarter of 2011, most of which resulted from break-up fees associated with the failed merger, according to the New York Times.[29]

2011 Supreme Court Ruling Prohibiting Class-Action Arbitration, Mobility v. Concepcion

In 2011, Vincent and Liza Concepcion of California filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T seeking class-action treatment because they "objected to a $30 charge for what was said to be a free cellphone," according to the New York Times.[30] Although the couple had signed a "take it or leave it" agreement that "required them to resolve disputes through arbitration and barred them from banding together with others to seek class-action treatment," lower federal courts did not enforce the agreement and the case moved forward, reaching the Supreme Court in April of 2011.[30] In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court reversed the rulings made by lower courts, determining that the arbitration agreement signed by the Concepcions was legal according to the Federal Arbitration Act.[31]

The decision, issued by Justice Antonin Scalia, stated, "California state contract law, which deems class-action waivers in arbitration agreements unenforceable when certain criteria are met, is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act because it stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress."[31] A dissenting opinion filed by Justice Stephen Breyer and joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan stated, "This rule of state law is consistent with the [Federal Arbitration] Act's language and primary objective. It does not 'stan[d] as an obstacle' to the Act’s 'accomplishment and execution.' And the Court is wrong to hold that the federal Act pre-empts the rule of state law." The dissent concluded, "Here, recognition of that federalist ideal, embodied in specific language in this particular statute, should lead us to uphold California's law, not to strike it down. We do not honor federalist principles in their breach.”[32]

The ruling holds far-reaching implications for millions of consumers who sign contracts with cell phone and credit card companies and for employees who sign contracts with corporate employers. Many predicted that the case could "end class-action litigation in America as we know it," according to the New York Times.[33] According to Alliance for Justice, a national association of organizations with progressive values, "the case has had wide-ranging effects on the ability of consumers and employees to vindicate their rights in court and recoup ill-gotten gains from companies. The impact has been felt particularly in the financial services, telecommunications, auto sales, and employment contexts."[34]

Political Spending

Contributions- $5,027,510
Lobbying - $17,460,000

Top Recipients:

On June 30, 2011, the Center for Responsive Politics wrote, "Contributions to lawmakers and federal lobbying expenditures by telecommunications interests have spiked as a result of government intervention in the market. Facing potentially stifling federal regulations that threaten to short-circuit their profits, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile have each dumped millions of dollars into campaign contributions and federal lobbying expenditures, hoping that a barrage of political influence will subdue any unwanted restrictions." [36]

Past Elections

Open Secrets reports that in 2010, AT&T gave $3.7 million to federal candidate and pro-corporate PACs. $1,612,582 was given to Democrats and $2,035,949 to Republicans.

Edward E. Whitacre Jr., then Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SBC (AT&T), was a Bush Ranger having raised at least $200,000 for Bush in the 2004 presidential election. [37]

AT&T gave $2,341,683 to federal candidates in the 2006 election cycle through its three political action committees - 34% to Democrats, 66% to Republicans. [38] [39] [40]


In 2010, AT&T spent $15,395,078 on lobbying expenses.[41] You can see a full list of AT&T's lobbying firms and lobbyists HERE.

You can view a list of the federal bills AT&T lobbied for in 2010 HERE.

The company spent $23,070,720 for lobbying in 2006. $3,960,000 went to 25 outside lobbying firms with the remainder being spent using in-house lobbyists.[42]



As of July 2014:[43]

  • Randall L. Stephenson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
  • William A. Blase, Jr., Senior Executive Vice President – Human Resources
  • James W. Cicconi, Senior Executive Vice President – External and Legislative Affairs, AT&T Services, Inc
  • Cathy M. Coughlin, Senior Executive Vice President and Global Marketing Officer
  • Ralph de la Vega, President and Chief Executive Officer - AT&T Mobility
  • John Donovan, Senior Executive Vice President, AT&T Technology and Network Operations
  • Andrew M. Geisse, Chief Executive Officer — AT&T Business Solutions
  • Lori Lee, Senior Executive Vice President, Home Solutions
  • John T. Stankey, Group President and Chief Strategy Officer
  • John Stephens, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
  • Wayne Watts, Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel

Former executives include:[44][45]

  • James W. Callaway, former Senior Executive Vice President-Executive Operations
  • Richard G. Lindner, former Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
  • Ronald E. Spears, former Senior Executive Vice President – Executive Operations

Board of Directors

As of July 2014:[46]

Former board members include:[47][48]

  • William F. Aldinger III
  • Gilbert F. Amelio
  • James H. Blanchard - Former Lead Director
  • August A. Busch III, Former Chairman of the Board of Anheuser-Busch
  • Lynn M. Martin
  • Patricia P. Upton
  • Mary S. Metz


Annual Revenue

Total Revenue: $128.752 billion
Gross Profit: $77,288,000
Net Income: $18,249,000

Total Revenue: $127.434 billion
Gross Profit: $72,206,000
Net Income: $7,264,000

Total Revenue: $126.7 billion
Net Income: $4.2 billion

Total Revenue: $124.3 billion
Gross Profit: $61 billion
Net Income: $20.2 billion

Total Revenue: $122.5 billion
Gross Profit: $60.6 billion
Net Income: $12.4 billion

Total Revenue: $123.4 billion
Gross Profit: $54.7 billion
Net Income: $-2.4 billion

Total Revenue: $118.3 billion
Gross Profit: $60.6 billion
Net Income: $17.2 billion

Executive Compensation

As of 2013:

Contact Information

208 South Akard Street
Dallas, TX 75202
phone: (210) 821-4105

Articles and Resources

Featured SourceWatch Articles on Fix the Debt

Other Related SourceWatch Articles

External Articles

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