AT&T has decided to join the growing coalition of people who regret paying President Trump’s lawyer. In a message to AT&T employees today, first obtained by CNN, AT&T President Randall Stephenson said “our company has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons these last few days and our reputation has been damaged. There is no other way to say it — AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake.” Regardless, Stephenson insists that “everything we did was done according to the law and entirely legitimate.”
But while Stephenson says he takes “full responsibility” for the mistake, it actually seems like AT&T’s top lobbyist Bob Quinn is taking the hit. Stephenson also announced in his message that Quinn “will be retiring,” and that the company’s lobbying shop will now be reporting to AT&T General Counsel David McAtee.
If you’ve been following any of the net neutrality saga in recent years, you’ve probably seen Quinn’s name once or twice. As one of the telecommunications industry’s most vocal and aggressive lobbyists, he’s spent a lot of time railing against things like net neutrality and internet privacy rules. (Quinn has been defending dubious ISP bullshit since the days of AT&T blocking FaceTime over mobile internet, one of the company’s most egregious abuses.) While his title was technically “Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs,” he often acted as AT&T’s chief blogger, posting lengthy screeds about why internet advocates were hyperventilating and distorting the facts.
AT&T isn’t going to change its tune on sensible internet regulation just because Quinn’s gone, but we’ll probably see fewer spicy blog posts before his position is filled.