In the News: Christopher Mitchell
October 23, 2017
Media Outlet: International Business Times
Due to the anti-municipal broadband bill introduced by Michigan state representative Michele Hoitenga, the International Business Times investigated the top donors to Hoitenga’s election bid and found that Big Telecom affiliates, such as the companies themselves and associations that lobby for their interests, sat near the top.
After reaching out to multiple representatives of Hoitenga’s office and the telecommunications companies and associations, IBT reporter Jay Cassano also reached out to ILSR’s director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative to discuss this phenomenon.
Here’s Christopher’s contribution:
According to state lobbying records reviewed by IBT, Hoitenga met and dined with TAM lobbyists during the first half of the year. Michigan’s lobbying disclosures are filed every six months, so it is currently unknown if TAM lobbyists have met with Hoitenga since June. The $142.82 spent to take Hoitenga out for a meal appears to be the only food and beverage expense TAM has disclosed in conjunction with its lobbying since 2001, as far back as online lobbying records go.
Several TAM lobbyists did not respond to requests for comment for this article.
“What we are seeing in Michigan is a continuation of bills trying to stop municipal broadband around the country,” Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, told IBT. “There are tremendous areas in Michigan that are not very well connected, areas that are just being left behind. Trying to stop municipal broadband is just crazy as a political priority.”
Critics of the bill have been alarmed by an apparent lack of technical competency on the part of Hoitenga, especially given her role as chair of the technology committee. The draft of the bill she submitted defines “qualified internet service” as “10 Mbps upstream and 1 Mbps downstream” which is the inverse of the normal 10 Mbps down/1 Mbps up formulation, as downstream speeds tend to be faster than upstream speeds.