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Billboard slams Sinema as ‘corrupt’ on net neutrality

By: - May 1, 2019 11:10 am

Photo courtesy Fight for the Future

***UPDATED to include comments from Sinema’s office.***

A billboard along Interstate 17 near 7th Street claims U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is corrupt due to her stance on a net neutrality bill.

The billboard was paid for by Fight for the Future, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that focuses on issues related to the internet and internet freedom. The billboard, which cost $1,000, will run from April 29 to May 5.

Currently, Sinema is the only Democrat to oppose a measure that would overturn a 2017 ruling by the Federal Communications Commission repealing net neutrality.

Net neutrality is when internet service providers treat all internet communications equally, and are kept from charging users for visiting certain websites.

Opponents of net neutrality claim that it would give the government too much power over the internet and that it isn’t a free-market solution.

“Net neutrality is critical to maintaining a vibrant internet,” Sinema said in an emailed statement to Arizona Mirror. Sinema said that consumers and providers need stability, adding that “we will only achieve those goals by working across party lines to find a bipartisan solution.”

The billboard in Phoenix also directs people to a website, SinemaIsCorrupt.com, which contains contact information for the freshman senator, as well as information on campaign donations to her by internet service providers.  

Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., was Sinema’s seventh-largest donor with more than $81,000 in campaign donations. Comcast also donated heavily to Sinema’s Senate campaign, with more than $52,000 in donations, $24,000 of which came from political action committees tied to the company, according to OpenSecrets.org.

“Apparently, the only people Sen. Sinema cares about are telecom lobbyists,” Fight for the Future Deputy Director Evan Greer said in a written statement. “She is the only Democratic lawmaker who has failed to put her name on this bill.”

Sinema isn’t the only Arizona lawmaker opposed to the measure.

Republican U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko, and David Schweikert oppose the measure, as does Republican U.S. Sen. Martha McSally. Democratic U.S. Reps. Ruben Gallego, Raul Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick, Tom O’Halleran and Greg Stanton are all co-sponsors of the legislation.

Sinema in March created a working group in an attempt to create a bipartisan net neutrality measure with the Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., but Fight for our Future calls it a “smokescreen.”

Sinema’s office said that the legislation being pushed by Democratic leaders may have “serious unintended consequences,” adding that it does not “create specific net neutrality laws.” Sinema’s office contended that the move will only create a further partisan divide on the issue.

When asked to provide additional details on what the working group is examining, Sinema’s office stated the group is “meeting with a diverse group of experts.”

Fight for the Future also called out McSally for not supporting the bill, citing comments from one of her Republican colleagues, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, that he would vote for the measure.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.