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Verizon Calls Bogus Letters Aberration

Attorney Cynthia Santomauro's name and that of two others wound up on e-mails sent from Verizon-sponsored Web site, which is trying to drum up support for loosening franchise regs via e-mails to state officials.

Trouble is, they didn't send them.

That is according to a story in the Bergen (N.J.) Record. Santomauro told the paper she first learned of the letter after receiving thanks from a state lawmaker. (The names on the two other errant e-mails were not identified).

She didn't send the letter and, as she is a local Republican borough official, it was particularly troubling, since she has to vote on cable-related issues.

Verizon's state media relations manager, Rich Young, told B&C via an e-mail that it was an isolated incident, saying it was three letters out of 30,000 sent. "It was unintentional, and we've taken steps to correct the situation," he said. "There was absolutely no intention of misusing someone's name without their permission."

Verizon has been waging a legal and public-relations battle to make it easier for services like its FiOS fiber-delivered cable competitor to roll out by securing statewide franchises, or even national legislation, that would bypass often-lengthy local franchise negotiations.

Telco video backers cite speeding the broadband rollout and increasing price and service competition to cable as reasons for adopting new franchise policies, while the cable industry counters that incumbents should be given no unfair advantage over companies that had to build their systems one negotiation at a time.