Joe Biden has officially announced he is running for the Democratic nomination for 2020, shocking absolutely no one. Despite the election looming a whole 18 months away, previously announced candidates have been in fundraising mode for at least a couple of months. In an effort to catch up, though, Biden may have made his first major misstep since announcing his run on Thursday.
The former vice president is meeting with high-rollers, fellow Democratic lawmakers, the CEO of Independence Blue Cross and others at Comcast executive David Cohen’s Philadelphia home on Thursday night. While Biden had vowed not to fund his campaign with contributions from lobbyists like most other Democratic hopefuls, this fundraiser provides an oh-so-convenient loophole, as Cohen is not a registered lobbyist but rather heads up Comcast’s lobbying operations.
On Wednesday, the exec sent emails asking for contributions of $2,800 to Biden’s campaign (the largest federal primary contribution allowed for the event) from possible donors. That night, Biden himself reiterated the importance of donations on a conference call, Politico reports, saying, “The money’s important. We’re going to be judged by what we can do in the first 24 hours, the first week.”
Well, it sure is easy to raise money when you have a corporate not-quite-lobbyist hosting your party. You may be wondering what exactly Comcast is getting out of all this. The answer? Most likely, anti-net neutrality laws. As Sludge reports:
Comcast, the largest cable company in the world, has been a leading voice in the telecommunication industry’s efforts to oppose net neutrality rules, spending millions on lobbying against laws at the federal and state levels that would prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) from giving priority treatment to certain types of traffic, such as content produced by the ISPs or their corporate partners.
The Delaware senator himself previously proved lukewarm on legal protections for net neutrality, claiming that such rules were unnecessary because any violations would provoke overwhelming and swift public condemnation. Guess what, Biden? People in power don’t always care about public outcry. That’s kind of why we need laws in the first place. Nevertheless, in 2007 the Scranton-born politician decided not to co-sponsor the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, which would have folded net neutrality protections into the Communication Act of 1934. His position isn’t all that surprising when you consider that Comcast has been one of the top contributors to Biden’s Senate campaigns.
Biden may as well be three little kids in a trench coat trying to enter the presidential race, except replace the children with corporate execs all holding fistfuls of cash. It’s a slightly less charming picture.