AT&T Inc. (T) feted lawmakers at Washington restaurants offering $52 steaks and a $15 “Lobbyist’s Libation” made of gin and cucumber puree as the company sought U.S. approval to buy T-Mobile USA Inc.
The parties, carrying $1,000 admission charges and aimed at replenishing congressional campaign coffers, were held as the largest U.S. phone company sought regulators’ blessing for the $39 billion deal. On Aug. 31, the Justice Department sued to block the transaction, saying it would harm competition.
The litigation marks a rare setback for AT&T, long a leading Washington power. The Dallas-based company boosted lobbying spending by 30 percent to $11.7 million in the first six months of 2011 compared with a year earlier, Senate records show. AT&T’s political action committee gave $805,500 to federal candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington research group.
“The one thing you
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