Being the voice of the nation's largest telephone companies does have its perks

June 14, 2006

2 Min Read
Telecom Trade Reps Are Very Well Paid Reps

Maybe long-distance calling costs next-to-nothing, but having a voice in Washington sure ain't cheap for the big telcos and cable MSOs.

In fact, Light Reading has learned that Walter McCormick, CEO of the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) commands a bigger payday than the heads of other communications-related associations, including the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) .

IRS filings show that McCormick banked $1.875 million in salary and benefits during 2004, and one industry source says the CEO's paycheck grew to well in excess of $2 million in 2005. USTelecom has not yet provided its 2005 filings to the IRS, and the group didn't respond to requests for comment.

USTelecom represents the interests of the nation's largest phone companies, and the group has been very active over the past year in talking to lawmakers about the merits of passing a national video franchise bill. A national franchise would allow telephone companies to roll out video service in new markets without acquiring local video franchises for each one. This would speed the market entry of telco video and greatly reduce the administration costs involved. (See Video Franchise Gains Steam in DC.)

McCormick, a seasoned and well connected lobbyist, led the lobbying practice at the law firm Bryan Cave LLP on K Street (lobbyist row) in Washington before making the leap to USTelecom in 2001.

McCormick's counterpart in the cable world didn't fare too badly, either, filings show. National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) CEO Robert Sachs made $1.653 million in salary and benefits during 2004. Sachs was replaced as CEO in 2005 by Kyle McSlarrow, the former Deputy Secretary of Energy for the Bush administration.

The NCTA wouldn't comment on McSlarrow's salary, and the IRS filings are unavailable.

USTelecom reported total assets of $2.97 million at the end of 2004, all of which was investments and securities. The NCTA, by contrast, reported total assets of $23.65 million for the same period.

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) 's president lagged his peers in 2004, according to filings. TIA president Matt Flanigan made $660,414 in 2004 for his efforts in representing both telecom equipment makers and service providers. The TIA reported total assets of $13.62 million at the end of 2004 and chose not to comment for this story.

Industry organizations with tax-exempt status are required to report their financials -- including executive compensation -- to the IRS by the 15th day of the fifth month after every fiscal year. However, the organizations are in the habit of receiving filing extensions until November or December before finally filing their numbers.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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