T-Mobile says its executives' decision to stay at President Donald Trump's Washington hotel multiple times was about convenience, not currying favor, as it tried to get its Sprint merger through the regulatory vetting process.
The Washington Post published a story Wednesday (Jan. 16) that the day after the merger was announced last April, nine of T-Mobile's top executives, including the CTO, CFO and CEO John Legere all were on a list of VIP arrivals to the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave. down the street from the White House.
The were numerous subsequent Trump hotel stays by T-Mobile execs in the ensuing weeks, at $300-plus a pop.
“It’s currying favor with the president. It’s disturbing, because it’s another secret avenue for currying favor with the government,” Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, told The Post.
Hardly, said a T-Mobile spokesperson.
"The T-Mobile senior leadership team stays at a variety of hotels in D.C. and across the country," he said, "and they are chosen primarily based on proximity to the meetings being conducted. We have complete confidence that regulators will assess our merger through an objective and fact-based process and ultimately see how beneficial it will be to consumers in the United States."
The hotel is only a few blocks from the Federal Communications Commission and literally next door to the Department of Justice headquarters. Both are vetting the deal.
The Free State Foundation, a free market think tank focused on communications issues, saw the linking of the deal and the hotel stays as a bit of a stretch, tweeting:
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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