Qualcomm spent millions on political clout

Disclosure following lawsuit shows large payments to foreign-visa lobby

Qualcomm, the San Diego–based cell-phone technology giant founded by billionaire La Jolla Democrat Irwin Jacobs, made a total of $2,955,786 in politically related expenditures during the 12-month period ending this past September, according to a disclosure posted on the firm's website as part of a settlement of a transparency lawsuit brought by New York's comptroller general.

Recipients of the Qualcomm cash included the campaign funds of more than 60 members of the U.S. Congress, Senate, and both houses of the California legislature.

But the bulk of the money, $2,704,186, was spent to support 26 trade associations and lobbying groups, including the Business Roundtable, which received $471,120, and the Chamber of Commerce of the U.S.A., which got $170,000.

The high-powered Business Roundtable, whose members include Microsoft, Walmart, and a raft of other blue-chip corporations, pressed hard this year for a so-called immigration-reform measure. Qualcomm has wanted additional foreign-worker visas, though that effort has continued to languish in Congress.

Another foreign-visa-related group, Immigration Voice, got $25,000.

The mission of Immigration Voice is to organize grassroots efforts and resources to solve several problems in the employment based green card process...

We will work to remove these and other flaws by supporting changes to immigration law for high-skilled legal employment-based immigrants. High-skilled legal immigrants strengthen the United States' economy and help maintain American technological superiority.

In addition, the disclosure shows, Qualcomm gave $25,000 to Third Way, which claims on its website that it "represents Americans in the 'vital center' — those who believe in pragmatic solutions and principled compromise, but who too often are ignored in Washington."

Our agenda includes: a series of grand economic bargains, a new approach to the climate crisis, progress on social issues like immigration reform, marriage for gay couples, tighter gun safety laws, and a credible alternative to neoconservative security policy.

Business Forward, another big business advocacy outfit, got $50,000.

With the help of more than 40 of the world’s largest and most respected companies, Business Forward is making it easier for tens of thousands of business leaders from across America to advise Washington on how to create jobs and accelerate our economic recovery.

San Diego's business lobby did less well by the homegrown corporate giant.

Jacobs and his son Paul, Qualcomm's chairman and CEO, have repeatedly clashed with San Diego's largely Republican real-estate developer and business establishment over their choice for mayor, ex-GOP assemblyman turned Democrat Nathan Fletcher, who placed third in last month's primary election.

In addition to sizable contributions from the Jacobs family and Qualcomm executives, Fletcher's bid received $49,000 in funds from the corporation itself, disclosures have shown.

Fierce attacks on the integrity of Fletcher and Qualcomm (Fletcher’s current employer) by the Republican Lincoln Club are believed by many observers to have played a significant role in the defeat.

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, run by GOP ex-mayor Jerry Sanders, who endorsed Republican city councilman Kevin Faulconer in the race, got $50,000 from Qualcomm. Sanders personally gave Faulconer $1000.

The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., whose president and CEO Mark Cafferty gave Fletcher $500 on October 5, received $35,000 from Qualcomm during the period.

Qualcomm's political funding disclosures were made as a result of a deal cut earlier this year by the company with New York state's comptroller general, who had filed suit against the corporation, alleging that it was less than transparent regarding its political giving.

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