Has a former Comcast vice president purchased himself a seat behind the US Senate Majority Leader?
Harry B. Krone, a longtime financial supporter of Sen. Harry Reid and former executive for the nation's largest cable TV provider, will fill the role of Reid's chief of staff, according to published reports Thursday.
He also happens to be the largest personal contributor on Reid's files, according to The Center for Public Integrity (CPI).
Federal Election Commission records show that Krone has personally donated over $35,000 to Reid's campaign and the Searchlight Leadership PAC, maintained by the majority leader.
"Krone lobbied on a number of bills for the [telecommunications] industry, including a 2001 broadband access measure, which Reid cosponsored In 2001, while working for lobbying firm Ryan, Phillips, Utrecht & MacKinnon, Krone was listed as a lobbyist for Duke Energy Corp. on two bills that Reid sponsored," CPI explained. "One was an energy appropriations measure, which included an earmark for a geothermal energy project at the University of Nevada-Reno, and the other bill sought to establish a national commission on energy and climate change. Neither bill came to a vote. Through a spokesman, Krone denied ever lobbying for Duke Energy, but confirmed that he had lobbied on telecom issues while at the firm."
Reid was recently reelected to his leadership post by a unanimous vote of Senate Democrats after narrowly defeating a tough challenge from tea party Republican Sharron Angle, who lost by a margin of 45-50 percent.
Krone has been deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to Reid's reelection campaign since 2008.
Comcast is currently in the process of attempting a takeover of NBC-Universal, seeking to acquire a 51 percent stake in the nation's largest television content provider.
Some of Reid's allies in the Senate have come out against the merger of the two companies, noting that the slated CEO of Comcast-NBCU would be current Comcast CEO Stephen B. Burke, a former fundraiser for George W. Bush.
A recent study conducted by the American Cable Association trade group predicted the merger will cost consumers $2.4 billion over the next nine years.
The merger would create a company worth over $30 billion, if approved by federal regulators. The FCC is widely expected to approve the deal, but the regulators' timeline is still unclear. Comcast has said it wants the government to act by the end of 2010.