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Conflict of Interest? Intel Gives $250 Million Obama Charity in Midst of FTC Suit

Jeff Poor
Business & Media Institute
Tuesday , January 12th, 2010

Throughout former President George W. Bush’s two terms, left-wingers often accused him of being too tied into big business, which they claimed had influenced policy.  Remember the outrage over Blackwater ties to the Bush administration?

However, now that a liberal is in the Oval Office, there’s not quite the same push for accountability when it comes to potential conflicts with big business.

On Jan. 6, The Washington Post reported Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) and the Intel Foundation were making a sizeable contribution to President Barack Obama’s philanthropic campaign for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education that Obama launched in November.

“Intel Corp., based in Santa Clara, Calif., and the Intel Foundation are committing $200 million in cash and in-kind support over 10 years for expanded teacher training and other measures,” Nick Anderson wrote for the Post. “For instance, the company will offer an intensive 80-hour math course to help U.S. elementary school teachers, who are usually generalists, develop expertise.”

On the surface, that may appear to be a good thing, until you learn that the Obama administration’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a pending antitrust suit against the tech giant that will test the bureaucracy’s powers. Anderson omitted that important detail from his Post story.

“The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s case against Intel Corp. (INTC) is likely to test whether the agency can resuscitate broad FTC powers that have been used rarely and viewed skeptically by the federal courts,” Brent Kendall wrote for Dow Jones Newswires on Dec. 17, 2009. “Instead of suing Intel in federal court for antitrust violations, the commission is bringing its case though an FTC administrative proceeding based on the Federal Trade Commission Act, which allows broader claims than federal antitrust law. A key provision of the act, known as Section 5, prohibits unfair methods of competition, and deceptive acts and practices in commerce.”

The chip manufacturer has been targeted on all fronts for its alleged antitrust practices, by state attorneys general and even by the European Union. And recently Intel agreed to pay $1.25 billion to rival company Advanced Micro Devices. However, the Post’s neglect and/or reluctance to tie Intel’s philanthropic endeavor to the Obama administration with the company’s antitrust problems seems to be part of a larger trend – one of which is the perception Obama administration gets too favorable media treatment, as polls have indicated.

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