Trump hires Bell, Telus consultant for telecom advice

American Enterprise Institute’s Jeffrey Eisenach has written policy papers for Canadian telcos.

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Trump’s Bell and Telus Consultant:

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has enlisted Jeffrey Eisenach, an American economist well known in U.S. lobbyist circles for his anti-regulation views, as a telecom policy advisor, according to politics website Politico.

Eisenach, a director at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute and senior vice-president of New York-based NERA Economic Consulting, is also known north of the border for frequently espousing similar positions on behalf of Bell and Telus.

Trump has become a political pariah over the course of his campaign for his numerous racist and sexist remarks, culminating recently in a leaked video in which he admitted to using his celebrity status to grope women.

Prominent Republicans including former presidential candidate John McCain have over the past few weeks withdrawn support for Trump and condemned him as unfit for office. United Nations high commissioner for human rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein this week said Trump would be a danger to the world if elected.

Eisenach did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Bell. Telus, which recently submitted a paper written by Eisenach to a CRTC consultation, says he is a widely recognized authority on telecommunications.

“Telus has consulted with Dr. Eisenach for expert testimony because we believe the evidence-based approach to economic analysis he provides can illuminate the effects of regulation and other policies on market performance, and thereby lead to better policies,” a spokesperson said in an email.

“The fact that he may be providing such advice at a high level in the U.S. does nothing to diminish the value of his work here in Canada.”

Jeffrey Eisenach.

Jeffrey Eisenach.

The two telecom companies have frequently used papers authored by Eisenach and called on him as an expert witness in regulatory hearings.

Eisenach argued for scaling back wholesale open internet access in 2015 and against wireless wholesale access in 2013. Also in 2013, he wrote in a Telus-sponsored report that efforts by the Canadian government to increase the number of wireless carriers in the country were misguided.

Bell also called on Eisenach in 2014 to argue against unbundling TV channels. Telus currently has an Eisenach-authored submission in with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for its review of differential pricing, otherwise known as zero rating.

Eisenach has written on numerous occasions that zero rating, which allows internet providers and wireless carriers to exempt certain applications from data usage caps, is beneficial to consumers.

Consumer advocates argue the opposite – that zero rating stifles innovation and creates a two-tiered internet where service providers get to choose winners and losers.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India sided with advocates earlier this year and rejected pro-zero rating arguments, including a submission from Eisenach.

Consumer groups are blasting Bell and Telus for not distancing themselves from Trump and his team.

“It’s a bold move by Trump. Having lost the female vote last week, [it] looks like he’s trying to torpedo whatever campaign he has left by hiring a Canadian Big Telecom consultant,” says Josh Tabish, campaigns director for Open Media. “After all, nobody can turn a country against themselves quite like Bell and Telus.”

Dwayne Winseck, a journalism and communications professor at Carleton University, says Eisenach’s politics – and therefore the telecom companies’ – are at odds with the general will of the Canadian electorate.

“We have libertarian ideology masquerading as economics and regulatory expertise that has been hard-boiled in the lobby circuits of D.C. and industry friendly think-tanks… being imported [into] Canada by Bell and Telus,” he says. “It is not the style of governance that the Liberals… or Canadians want to be associated with.”

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