The event began the evening of Jan. 22. Representatives from Pets for Vets, a charity supported by Time Warner, gave the evening keynote presentation.
After breakfast the next day, legislators attended sessions that presented the telecommunications world as seen through the eyes of Time Warner, as well as a session featuring a panel of legislative leaders.
“It was helpful to go and get a perspective on some of those issues,” said Rep. Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester, for whom Time Warner paid the cost of meals and the overnight stay. “I’m always looking at the opportunity to learn more about different things.”
How many legislators attended the conference isn’t clear.
An email from Melinda Poore, Time Warner’s chief Maine lobbyist and the event’s organizer, sent to members of the legislative leadership panel prior to the event, said “we … have maxed out the attendance.” Sen. Andre Cushing, a Republican senator from Hampden, for whom Time Warner also paid the cost of meals and the room, said he thought “about a dozen” legislators attended the Thursday night dinner. Rep. Dion said “30 or 35” attended Friday’s sessions.
What’s also not clear is whether or how many legislators brought partners or spouses to the event. Poore’s lobbying disclosure for Jan. 2013 shows that at a previous Time Warner policy conference in 2013, several lawmakers brought partners or spouses.
Poore did not respond to a request for details about the recent event. Instead, Scott Pryzwansky, Time Warner Cable’s director of public relations for the eastern U.S., responded by email, declining to answer any specific questions:
“As one of Maine’s leading employers and telecommunications companies, we designed this second biannual educational forum to help policymakers and others better understand some of the complex telecommunications issues confronting Maine and the nation.
“Like many other organizations in Maine that sponsor similar forums, we believe it is our responsibility to help raise awareness about issues that are central to Maine’s economy and future.”
The Center obtained copies of materials distributed at the event from both Cushing and Rep. Barry Hobbins, D-Saco, who also attended. Hobbins’ meals and lodging were covered by Time Warner.
While there were five sessions, Espling said “broadband was probably the biggest theme.” In addition to a specific session entitled “Broadband in Maine,” attendees were given a presentation by pollster Mary Anne Fitzgerald on a Time Warner-commissioned survey about, among other subjects, public attitudes towards broadband expansion.