Conservative activist Ralph Reed is currently working as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill for media giant Comcast, which owns NBC/Universal and all of its channels, including left-leaning cable news channel MSNBC, the Washington Blade is reporting.
Reed rose to notoriety as the executive director of the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. A vocal opponent of marriage equality, he has a long history of promoting right-wing causes and of being something of a kingmaker in the Republican Party through endorsements during the ’90s. Reed is also reported to have made nearly $3.5 million from contracts with the National Cable and Telecom Association, which represents cable service providers such as Comcast and Qwest Communications, between 2008 and 2011.
Reed’s firm, Century Strategies, is said to have been on retainer for Comcast for at least eight or as many as 10 years. Sources have told the Blade that Reed’s duties fall short of the legal definition of lobbying, which would require Reed to formally register as a lobbyist for the company.
The news is of particular note because Comcast is currently attempting to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion. Comcast filed the paperwork for the purchase with the Federal Communications Commission in April, and it is currently under review. The Blade’s sources indicate it’s safe to assume that helping shepherd that deal through the review process is part of Reed’s duties for Comcast.
Reed had previously worked as a lobbyist for Microsoft but was fired when the company faced strong opposition from LGBT activists and consumers after it dropped its support for a nondiscrimination bill pending in Washington State at the time.
This isn’t the first time Comcast has been caught in a right-wing connection. In 2011 the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, of which Comcast was a member, supported legislation that eliminated all municipal and county-level LGBT civil rights protections in the state and barred the enactment of new ones. The company eventually released a statement saying it did not endorse the measure, but by that time the bill had made it through the legislature and was awaiting the governor’s signature. It was signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam and is the subject of an ongoing court challenge.