Few companies in Portland—or elsewhere for that matter—generate as much consumer hate as Comcast, the monopolistic cable, Internet and landline provider that charges more for less service than customers get in many other countries.
But Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is not among the haters.
Monday, the online news outlet The Verge reported that Brown wrote a glowing letter to the Federal Communications Commission in support of Comcast's controversial merger with Time Warner Cable.
"I write this letter to voice my support for Comcast's effort to promote positive social change, decrease the digital divide, and expand access to broadband for low income families," Brown wrote.
That sentence turned out to be one of Brown's few original statements. As The Verge reported, Brown's letter mostly copied a version drafted by one of Comcast's Oregon lobbyists. It was part of a nationwide Comcast campaign to gain FCC approval for its massive deal while appearing to have grassroots support.
Between 2006 and 2012, Comcast gave Brownâa potential Democratic candidate for governor in 2018â$10,000 in campaign contributions.
Tony Green, a spokesman for Brown, said the secretary wanted to vouch for Comcast's "good work" in Oregon. "Merging with Time Warner would allow Comcast to do that work in other parts of the state," he says.
Asked how the merger would help consumers, Green said that was the job of the FCC to determine. That's an important question, however. The FCC is supposed to base its decision on the merger on whether it serves the public interest.
Critics of the proposed deal say it would actually hurt consumers. As The Verge reports:
If the FCC follows the recommendations of the letters and approves the merger, American consumers could see big changes to their broadband and cable TV services. Critics argue that the merger would give Comcast a dangerous grip on an estimated 50 percent of the United Statesâ high-speed broadband market, which already lacks the sort of fierce market competition that helps drive down prices and ensure quality service. The merger would hand Comcast a level of market power, according to critics, that would allow the company to jack up already-rising cable prices while making it a gatekeeper over which movies, news, and music Americans can access.
Brown's getting a drubbing online.
"We should just vote Comcast in as the government and quit with the charade of actually having the voter in the middle," one commenter wrote.
"What I find really surprising is that her version is actually even MORE pro-Comcast than the Comcast supplied version," another wrote.
"I emailed her my disappointment," a third said. "But if she cared about our opinions at all she wouldn't have done this in the first place."