I suspect that Verizon facilitated my being targeted through Homeland Security for such writings as this, this, and this, in my blog spotlighting the blacked-out issue of the abortion of what would have been Washington, D.C.'s South Capitol Mall.
By ERIC LICHTBLAU and SCOTT SHANE
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 — Executives at the two biggest phone companies contributed more than $42,000 in political donations to Senator John D. Rockefeller IV this year while seeking his support for legal immunity for businesses participating in National Security Agency eavesdropping.The surge in contributions came from a Who’s Who of executives at the companies, AT&T and Verizon, starting with the chief executives and including at least 50 executives and lawyers at the two utilities, according to campaign finance reports.
The money came primarily from a fund-raiser that Verizon held for Mr. Rockefeller in March in New York and another that AT&T sponsored for him in May in San Antonio.
Mr. Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, emerged last week as the most important supporter of immunity in devising a compromise plan with Senate Republicans and the Bush administration.
A measure approved by the intelligence panel on Thursday would add restrictions on the eavesdropping and extend retroactive immunity to carriers that participated in it. President Bush secretly approved the program after the Sept. 11 attacks.
AT&T and Verizon have been lobbying hard to insulate themselves from suits over their reported roles in the security agency program by gaining legal immunity from Congress. The effort included meetings with Mr. Rockefeller and other members of the intelligence panels, officials said.
The companies face suits from customers who say their privacy was violated. Administration officials say they worry that the suits, pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, could bankrupt the utilities.
House Democrats have balked at the immunity, refusing to include it in a bill they drew up and saying they would not even consider it unless the administration produced long-sought documents on the origins of the program.
Mr. Rockefeller received little in the way of contributions from AT&T or Verizon executives before this year, reporting $4,050 from 2002 through 2006. From last March to June, he collected a total of $42,850 from executives at the two companies. The increase was first reported by the online journal Wired, using data compiled by the Web site OpenSecrets.org.
Neither Mr. Rockefeller’s predecessor as committee chairman or his House counterpart received increases in contributions from the phone companies, records show. But industry executives have given significant contributions to a number of other Washington politicians, including two presidential contenders, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain.