Newswise — EVANSTON, Ill. --- Recent revelations that several companies made substantial payments to President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, have sent ripples through Washington, causing pundits to wonder if organizations are trying to buy access to the president. AT&T allegedly paid Cohen $200,000. The company said it paid Cohen in an effort to gain a better understanding of new administration.

Northwestern University professor Nicholas Pearce is available to talk about the business and ethical implications of the payments.

“While paying lobbyists for political access is a fairly standard and defensible legal practice, AT&T's move appears to cross the ethical line because Cohen is not a registered lobbyist or industry expert,” Pearce said. “It creates a question of whether the brand can be trusted as they look to convince regulators that their proposed merger will do more good than harm.

“This is simply the latest incident of an organization trying to curry favor with the Trump administration finding itself in the middle of a PR nightmare by associating with someone whose trustworthiness is in persistent question.”

About Nicholas Pearce

Pearce is a clinical associate professor of management and organizations at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He is a leading scholar, lecturer and trusted strategic adviser on values-driven leadership, collaboration and change in organizations. He has served leaders of corporations, social impact organizations, governments and communities of faith on six continents. He can be reached at [email protected]

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