Yesterday we reported that Senator Chuck Schumer, who called the Comcast-Time Warner Cable “a good deal” for New York, has ties to one of the key dealmakers involved – his brother, Robert Schumer, was Time Warner Cable’s lead outside attorney on the deal.
Our report prompted Senator Schumer, who sits on the antitrust subcommittee, to recuse himself from further consideration of the deal. Schumer’s communications director, Matt House, provided this statement to the Huffington Post:
As Senator Schumer and his brother had never discussed the matter before, the piece in American Lawyer was the first Senator Schumer learned that his brother had worked on the deal. Now that he’s aware of his brother’s involvement, Senator Schumer will recuse himself from Congressional consideration of the matter to avoid any appearance of bias.
Schumer’s claim that he was unaware of his brother’s involvement is surprising in light of Robert Schumer’s decades-long relationship with Time Warner Cable. He has been the company’s go-to M&A lawyer for years, winning public accolades along the way.
Here are some highlights from Robert Schumer’s career cutting deals for Time Warner Cable and its predecessors (much of it helpfully included in his firm bio):
1989: As a senior associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Robert Schumer helped represent Warner Communications in its merger with Time Inc (Time Warner later spun off Time Warner Cable, in 2008).
1991: When Paul, Weiss, Rifkind partner Peter Haje left to become Time Warner’s general counsel, Schumer inherited the client. Haje is now on Time Warner Cable’s board.
1992: Schumer helped Time Warner form Time Warner Entertainment, selling stakes to several foreign investors. Current Time Warner Cable CEO Robert Marcus also worked on the deal for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind.
2002: An article in The American Lawyer magazine calls Schumer “AOL Time Warner’s Man of the Decade” for his role in helping AOL Time Warner repurchase the part of Time Warner Entertainment that it had sold off in 1992.
2005: The American Lawyer named Schumer “Dealmaker of the Year” in 2005 for his work for Time Warner in its acquisition, with Comcast, of Adelphia Communications’ cable assets.
2008: He represented Time Warner Cable when it was spun off from Time Warner Inc.
2011: He was again named “Dealmaker of the Year” for his work on Time Warner Cable’s acquisition of Insight Communications.
Chuck Schumer would not have had to discuss the deal with his brother to learn of his recent work for Time Warner Cable – back in January, The American Lawyer magazine noted Robert Schumer’s representation of the company in connection with Charter Communications’ takeover bid. His role in the Comcast deal was reported on Thursday morning, before Senator Schumer praised the deal. The American Lawyer named Robert Schumer “Dealmaker of the Week” the next day. None of these pieces noted the familial tie-in to Senator Schumer.
In light of this longstanding relationship with Time Warner Cable, it seems strange that Senator Schumer would not suspect that his brother was involved in this particular deal. Robert Schumer built his career on more than two decades of Time Warner Cable deals, from Warner Communications to Comcast, and yet the Senator had no idea that his brother was involved in this go-round?
As I noted yesterday, Senator Schumer has raised large sums of money from his brother’s firm. Attorneys at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind contributed $145,550 to his re-election campaign in 2010, more than any other corporate donor, according to Open Secrets. Donors included Ariel Deckelbaum, Robert Schumer’s partner on the Time Warner Cable deal, who gave $2000 during the 2010 cycle. As noted above, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind also has ties to Time Warner Cable through CEO Robert Marcus, a former partner, and board member and former general counsel Peter Haje, also a former partner at the firm.