It’s amazing what $271,300 can buy you these days. I never realized what the going rate for a Speaker of the House was until I heard about this story.
Actually, the total could be $546,300. That is the total amount contributed to Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
$271,300 to Pelosi and $27,000 to the DCCC. The money was contributed by Byron Allen, a former stand-up comedian who now owns a media empire.
Allen tried to buy Tegna, a media company with 64 television stations to increase the size of his empire. That deal fell apart because Allen had financing difficulties. In the fourth quarter of 2021 just as Allen’s deal was falling apart, he made the contributions to Pelosi and the DCCC, the only ones he has ever made, In February a deal was announced between Tegna and the hedge fund Standard General for $8.6 million dollars for the local television channels.
Suddenly, Pelosi wrote a letter to the FCC objecting to the sale even though Tegna has no stations in San Francisco, which is strange. She claimed the deal should not be approved because will lead to higher cable bills, station job cuts, and diminished local news coverage. Pelosi wrote the letter in conjunction with Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone Jr. and was addressed to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
A week before the letter was sent the FCC asked for more information from the two parties of the deal, which set back the closing by a couple of weeks. The New York Post spoke to a lawyer who speculated that the FCC was given a warning that the letter was forthcoming because you do not want to surprise an agency head when they are a member of your party. So, the deal is currently on hold.
Standard General pledged that they will not do any of the things that Pelosi said she was afraid of, yet the deal has still not been approved. Prior to Pelosi’s letter, there did not seem to be a hitch in the deal, but I am almost certain Pelosi wasn’t bribed in order to throw a wrench in the deal, aren’t you? Excuse me while I choke on my tongue that is currently in my cheek.
Craig Holman, the Capitol Hill lobbyist for the advocacy group Public Citizen, told the New York Post:
“If she is helping out a major donor it doesn’t look good, quite frankly. When it comes to campaign finance, this is often how it works. A donor gives money with the expectation of some return.”
“It is legal unless there is an actual agreement between the parties. Then it is a bribe. But when there is no obvious agreement, it does not run afoul of the law.”
These deals are never set to paper, so proving it is a bribe is nearly impossible.
Mark Lipp, a partner at law firm Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth who worked at the FCC for 14 years, told the New York Post that politicians have pressured the FCC on behalf of donors in the past, but “since she has no constituent who would be affected, it is unusual.”
“I’ve seen some commissioners withstand that kind of pressure and seen others buckle,” Lipp said. “That sounds like more than a coincidence.”
Henry Connelly, a spokesperson for Pelosi, declined to comment on Allen’s campaign donations, reported the news outlet. However, Connelly noted that Pelosi and Pallone also reached out to the FCC with similar concerns in 2017 regarding Sinclair Broadcasting’s deal to purchase stations from Tribune Broadcasting.
“Evidently, there are some ‘legal experts’ who will be surprised to learn that the speaker of the House of Representatives does in fact routinely weigh in on issues of national importance, not just her own district,” Connelly said. “Democrats have long expressed concerns to the FCC about the consolidation of local news outlets raising costs on consumers and hollowing out the local news reporting that is vital to the health of our democracy.”
See, I told you. Nothing illegal here.