AUSWR
The Association of U S West Retirees
 

 

 

PUC note clarifies condition on charity

The written order states that the corporate-giving mandate refers to nonprofit donations.

 

The Denver Post

By Andy Vuong
January 05, 2011

Colorado regulators issued a written order late Monday approving the proposed merger between Denver- based Qwest and CenturyLink, providing some detail on a disputed philanthropy provision.

The three-member Colorado Public Utilities Commission initially OK'd the deal during a hearing Dec. 15 and included a requirement that the combined company maintain Qwest's level of corporate giving in Colorado over the past three years for three years after the merger.

Qwest state president Chuck Ward had questioned the PUC's authority over the company's charitable giving arm, the Qwest Foundation.

The commission's written order specifically refers to nonprofit contributions from the foundation.

"The evidence presented at the hearing demonstrated the typical levels of cash contributions to non-profits and charities either directly from Qwest or through the Qwest Foundation," the order states. "To provide some assurance to Colorado non-profits and charities, we require that CenturyLink ... commit to maintain the level of corporate giving that has been the practice over the last three years by Qwest for a period of three years after the merger closes."

The companies have 20 days to appeal the decision.

"We are evaluating our options related to this portion of the order," Ward said Tuesday. "Like Qwest, CenturyLink has a long history of supporting the communities in which it operates, and we expect that tradition to continue."

PUC Chairman Ron Binz proposed the mandate, expressing concern that Qwest's community involvement would drop because the combined company will be based at CenturyLink's headquarters in Monroe, La. Commissioner Matt Baker supported the requirement, while commissioner Jim Tarpey opposed it.

The written order included Tar pey's dissenting opinion, which states, in part, that the level of charitable contributions is "not for the commission to mandate."

Andy Vuong: 303-954-1209, avuong@denverpost.com or twitter.com/andyvuong