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Schumer Recuses Himself From Comcast-Time Warner Deal Scrutiny

Senator's Brother Was Key Lawyer In Planned Acquisition
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Sen. Charles Schumer (credit: Getty Images)

Sen. Charles Schumer (credit: Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Congress will soon dissect Comcast Corp.’s planned acquisition of rival Time Warner Cable Inc., but Sen. Charles Schumer will watch from the sidelines.

The New York Democrat announced Tuesday he is recusing himself from any role Congress plays in the acquisition after learning his brother was one of the lead lawyers behind the $45 billion deal.

Federal regulators and lawmakers will scrutinize how the acquisition would affect competition and consumers, issues that could have come before Schumer as a member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee.

Schumer’s office said he didn’t know his brother Robert represented Time Warner Cable in the talks until The American Lawyer reported Friday he was the publication’s “dealmaker of the week.” Robert Schumer is co-chair of the mergers and acquisitions practice at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

“Senator Schumer has not discussed this matter with his brother at all,” said spokeswoman Meredith Kelly. “He found out that his brother was involved with the deal on Friday, upon being shown The American Lawyer story, and made a decision to recuse himself from all aspects of the deal in order to avoid even an appearance of conflict of interest.”

Robert Schumer’s role in the deal was first reported by the blog littlesis.org, a project of the nonprofit Public Accountability Initiative.

According to Robert Schumer’s resume on the law firm’s website, he has worked on a number of major deals involving Time Warner, including its spinoff of Time Warner Cable in 2009.

When the cable deal was announced Thursday, Schumer’s office issued a statement saying he had gotten a commitment from a top Comcast executive that the company would go ahead with plans announced by Time Warner to open a new call center that would employ 250 to 300 people in Buffalo.

While the statement focused on the western New York jobs, Schumer also said he urged the company “to maintain the entire TWC workforce in New York and consider adding to their presence.”

He added that “while there was no guarantee, my expectation is that Comcast will invest in New York, as they did after the merger with NBC, and the results of the merger will be positive for New York.”

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