Sprint Nextel Corp., which is fighting the proposed $39B AT&T takeover of T-Mobile USA, has added Weber Merritt to its PR arsenal.

The firm headed by Qorvis Communications founding partners Jim Weber and Bernie Merritt "shows that Sprint is serious and willing to spend to fight the merger," by hiring a "top-flight firm," according to a report in The Hill of May 5.

Sprint argues that an AT&T hook-up with T-Mobile would create a "Ma Bell duopoly” composed of wireless giants AT&T and Verizon.

Grassroots specialist WM joins the Sprint PR team of APCO Worldwide and Abernathy MacGregor Group.

On the lobbying front, Sprint has just added Thorsen French Advocacy to its roster. James French was counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, while Carlyle Thorsen served as deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Dept. and counsel to former Texas Rep. Tom Delay. 

Sprint spent $2.5M for lobbying during 2010. First-quarter '11 outlays are put at $583K for shops such as Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock and Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti.

AT&T shelled out $15.3M to lobbying firms last year, and $6.8M during this year’s first quarter.

Beneficiaries of AT&T largess are Quinn Gillespie, Cassidy & Assocs., Patton Boggs via Breaux Lott Leadership Group, and Prime Policy Group.