Phoning It In
It's always nice to have cronies:
A cellphone company run by a major Democratic donor and President Obama backer has extended its foray into government contracts, from the so-called “Obama phone” to a project intended to provide high-speed Internet access to low-income families -- amid criticism its product is ill-equipped.Come and get your free phone-and shut up!
Critics also suggest TracFone Wireless CEO F.J. Pollak used his Obama connections to help his company get one of the 14 contracts.
At issue is a $13.8 million pilot project by the Federal Communications Commission that attempts to find the best ways to increase the broadband access rate among the poor and help improve their digital skills – to eventually help them manage household finances, look for work and do other tasks.
The contracts were awarded late last year, but it's unclear how much went to TracFone.
Pollak and his wife, Abigail, are major Obama bundlers and Democratic donors. The couple hosted a $40,000-a-plate fundraising dinner in June at their Miami Beach home. And Abigail Pollak alone raised at least $632,000 for the Obama re-election effort, a total $1.56 million for him since 2007, according to a financial documents obtained by The New York Times.
In addition, F.J. Pollak has been to the White House at least twice. And he and his wife gave an estimated $270,000 to Democratic candidates in the last election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org.
"That has absolutely nothing to do with business,” Jose Fuentes, a spokesman for TracFone's parent company, America Movil, told The Washington Times. “There's been no pay-for-play — or even favors. What he does in his private time is his."