Correction: An earlier version of this blog post incorrectly said Comcast has a monopoly on local Internet service. Other companies also offer the service.
Mayoral candidate Ed Murray responded today to a Washington Post story yesterday that said Comcast was giving big money to his campaign because he might stop a public-private broadband network being pushed by Mayor Mike McGinn.
McGinn has proposed a partnership with Gigabit Squared and the University of Washington to lease fiber to the private sector to build a better broadband network. It’s a spin on McGinn’s original 2009 campaign promise that he would make a publicly owned broadband network in Seattle. Once in office, he determined that was too expensive.
Today, Murray’s campaign released a statement saying he supports McGinn’s broadband plans:
“A story posted online on the Washington Post web site yesterday incorrectly implies that Ed Murray might not be supportive of citywide high speed broadband because Comcast has contributed to his campaign. As we made clear to the reporter yesterday — and as the article reports — Ed does support the city’s current efforts with Gigabit Squared to create a high-speed broadband network.”
Murray went on to say in the written statement that speculation in the article that Murray might not support all of McGinn’s initiative “is simply wrong.”
“Ed thinks competition is a good thing, and supports the creation of a citywide high-speed broadband network.”
It’s another example of the two candidates agreeing on a policy issue. Murray has said in his campaign that he doesn’t question McGinn’s progressive values and wouldn’t change anything about the consent decree the mayor negotiated with the Department of Justice about the Seattle Police Department. The race, Murray has said, is about style, and he opposes McGinn’s sometimes combative approach.
Comcast, the dominant local provider of Internet service, and its local executives, have contributed about $2,000 directly to Murray’s mayoral campaign. In addition, Comcast and a PAC funded by Comcast have given $10,000 to PACs supporting Murray.
“Comcast is a very sophisticated company,” McGinn said today. “They’re not putting thousands of dollars into this unless they believe they are threatened.”
The McGinn campaign went bonkers yesterday — tweeting the story, sharing it on Facebook and McGinn emailing the link directly to supporters — after seeing the Washington Post story and resulting blog posts about the Comcast contributions. The story stemmed from a reddit Q&A the mayor did recently, but it never got traction in the local media.
And now, Seattle Times technology blogger Brier Dudley has chimed in.