AT&T Cupcakes Make the Rounds in Washington After ‘Cupcakegate’

AT&T Inc. (T) said it distributed cupcakes to friends and colleagues in Washington and defended sending the treats to U.S. regulators at the Federal Communications Commission.

AT&T’s holiday tradition of distributing sweets drew attention last year after Public Knowledge, a Washington-based policy group, obtained a distribution list for 1,530 cupcakes, with recipients including members of the FCC.

“This friendly gesture was described as some form of a devious plot to ‘buy’ off the commission on issues of importance to AT&T,” and was dubbed “Cupcakegate,” Bob Quinn, senior vice president-federal regulatory and chief privacy officer for the company, said in a blog posting today.

“There was some pressure to stop the tradition this year because of last year’s silly criticisms (don’t worry, you all will be getting cupcakes again this time around too),” Quinn wrote. He didn’t say how many cupcakes were delivered this year in what the posting called “a token of holiday cheer” for “friends and colleagues with whom we work in the communications space.”

The FCC last month moved to block AT&T’s proposed $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA Inc. The Justice Department earlier sued to block the deal that would eliminate the fourth- largest U.S. wireless carrier, calling the transaction anticompetitive. A federal judge put the antitrust case on hold today, and Dallas-based AT&T has until Jan. 12 to file a report with the court saying whether it still intends to try to acquire T-Mobile.

A dozen cupcakes bearing AT&T’s logo were delivered to Bloomberg’s Washington bureau, and were distributed to building staff not involved in the production or distribution of news.

To contact the reporter on this story: Todd Shields in Washington at tshields3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Shepard at mshepard7@bloomberg.net

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