Gage Skidmore / Flickr Ajit Pai...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

This week Senate Democrats will force a vote to restore net neutrality on the Senate floor.

Proponents currently have the backing of 47 Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats as well as Republican Senator Susan Collins. With the prolonged absence of Senator John McCain due to illness, proponents believe they will win on a 50-49 vote.

What great timing! Senate Democrats didn’t know that we’d get the blockbuster news that AT&T paid Trump lawyer $200,000 for “insights” about the Trump administration the day before they bring their petition to the floor. But how interesting all this is for net neutrality.

The money came in four installments of $50,000, starting in early 2017 and ending in January 2018, right after Trump’s pick for FCC chair, Ajit Pai, rushed through the repeal of net neutrality, despite overwhelming outcry from across the political spectrum.

AT&T confirms the payment, and explains it away saying they paid Cohen as a consultant to “gain insight” into the Trump White House.

Not conclusive, but certainly fishy and worth looking into.

Let’s reiterate that. The payments began in early 2017 and ended just as soon as Pai’s FCC repealed net neutrality. Yeah, definitely fishy. And what did AT&T do the minute repeal was done?

The body isn’t even cold yet, but AT&T is wasting no time in rolling out new “features” that fly in the face of net neutrality. The company has expanded its “sponsored data” program to prepaid wireless customers, offering content companies the option to “sponsor” their data so that it doesn’t count against users’ caps.

This, in case you’re wondering, is what you find under the definition of “paid fast lanes” in the net neutrality false promises hall of fame.

So is $200,000 enough to buy off Pai? Did he get his cut? This is something Congress really should be exploring. In the meantime, they can redeem themselves just a little bit by doing what the vast majority of the voting public wants: save net neutrality.

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