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AT&T in Sacramento: No defenders of the indefensible

April 24, 2012|By Paul Thornton
  • The California capitol building in Sacramento, where AT&T lobbyists have unmatched influence over state legislators.
The California capitol building in Sacramento, where AT&T lobbyists… (Los Angeles Times )

Occasionally The Times publishes a story that leaves little room for debate, where the reader letters come down so uniformly on one side of the issue that putting a positive spin on the article would seem impossible. Monday's front-page article, "AT&T wields enormous power in Sacramento," was one such story.

None of the roughly two-dozen reader submissions sent to letters@latimes.com (two of which were published on Monday's page) even attempted to note a remotely apologetic aspect of AT&T's grip on California lawmakers. Some readers pointed to the story as Exhibit A in the case for campaign finance reform; others were incredulous over legislators' attempts to deny that AT&T's lavish gift-giving in Sacramento had much influence at all over laws and regulations.

Below is a selection of what our letter writers had to say, edited only for spelling, grammar, style and clarity.

There oughta be a law.

The need for public financing of campaign funds could not have been made more clearly. This article screams corruption.

The voters elect legislators to represent their interests, not the interests of corporations and special-interest groups. The interests of AT&T do not necessarily align with California voters'. Our legislators, who are paid by California taxpayers, must be the only public workers who are allowed to accept gifts and money in exchange for their actions.

Voters need to take action by not voting for incumbents, voting for candidates who refuse to take corporate or special-interest money (such as Green Party candidates, who are prohibited by their party from accepting corporate donations and gifts), and supporting laws promoting public financing of political campaigns.

Susan D. Sayre
Irvine

Occupy Sacramento?

Let me see if I have this straight: The people elect a state legislature, which is responsible for protecting the people by regulating business and industry. Then, business and industry -- AT&T, for instance -- bribe the legislators (with money they got from the people) to avoid regulation and increase their profits.  

The companies get rich, the people get screwed, and all this is done legally and out in the open.  

This is what the Occupy movement is about: corruption, betrayal, frustration.  

Bart Braverman
Los Angeles

Legislators need to play by the rules for the rest of us.

You call it lobbying; I call it corruption of the democratic process. 

As an engineer working for a large aerospace company, I was told that it is unethical to accept gifts from suppliers exceeding $5. And yet California legislators continue to sell out to large corporations by receiving bribes described as "political contributions." Obviously they don't see themselves as public servants but rather as minions of the large monopolies that are running this country. 

Let's remember this on election day.

Hans Schurig
Hollywood

How stupid do they think we are?

In an odd way, it's comforting to know that despite all the changes that have come to California over the last 50 years, our Legislature still hasn't given up on blatant and open corruption. I especially enjoyed the statement by Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles): "People give money because of whatever reasons motivate them, and we evaluate legislation regardless."

Right. And my employer pays me for "whatever reasons motivate them," which are completely unconnected to whether I show up for work.

Geoff Kuenning
Claremont

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