Qualcomm Sued Over Political Spending

In a move that may set a precedent for the entire private sector, New York comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has sued Qualcomm for allegedly making disproportional contributions to promote its senior management’s political agenda.

Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs has contributed over $2 billion to at least three Democratic super PACs. DiNapoli, who is a Democrat himself according to the New York Times, has launched an investigation to find out whether Qualcomm made corporate contributions to similar political bodies that are not obliged to disclose their donors’ identities and are often except from paying tax.

DiNapoli is in charge of the New York State pension fund, which holds a major stake in Qualcomm. It seems that he would have reason to be concerned, but the chipmaker disagrees.

“In a statement, Donald J. Rosenberg, Qualcomm’s general counsel, said the company was surprised by the lawsuit. “Qualcomm is well regarded for its open and transparent culture and fully complies with all local, state and federal laws governing political activity and the disclosure of that activity — and the lawsuit does not suggest otherwise,” Mr. Rosenberg said.”

A court battle is the last thing Qualcomm needs, especially now. The mobile chip maker is facing increased competition from both Intel and long time rival Broadcom, which had a couple of major updates this week.

Yesterday I reported an early rumor that Broadcom is collaborating with Apple to develop new chips that will offer support for the ultra-fast, but still in development 802.11ac WiFi standard. According to the same inside sources that leaked word of the project, these semiconductors will be included in upcoming Macintosh computers – no word on mobile as of yet.

Intel meanwhile is also working on expanding its portfolio in the direction of mobile, specifically notebooks. The chipmaker is already showing off some of the new hardware that it will officially debut at CES later this month.