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Comcast trying to “torpedo” Biden FCC pick Gigi Sohn, advocacy group says

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Gigi Sohn sitting and answering questions posted by US senators at a hearing.
Enlarge / Gigi Sohn answering questions on December 1, 2021, at a Senate Commerce Committee listening to on her nomination to the Federal Communications Fee.

Comcast’s hiring of a brand new lobbyist is a part of an try to “torpedo” President Joe Biden’s nomination of Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Fee, advocacy group Free Press alleged yesterday.

“Comcast simply employed a lobbying agency to attempt to torpedo Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the FCC. The corporate clearly is aware of that Sohn will work for folks, not companies,” Free Press wrote in an electronic mail to members. The e-mail requested folks to name Commerce Committee Chair Sen. Maria Cantwell (D–Wash.) to induce a vote on Sohn’s nomination by the top of January.

Comcast’s newly employed lobbyist is Kirk Adams of Consilium Consulting in Phoenix, Arizona. Adams’ lobbying disclosure, which was filed with Congress on January 6, lists one particular lobbying concern that he expects to work on: “FCC nominations.” An amended version of the lobbying registration filed about 11 hours later deleted “FCC Nominations” and changed it with “telecommunications coverage.”

We requested Comcast if it employed Adams to foyer in opposition to the Sohn nomination and why the change was made to the lobbying registration doc. “We do not touch upon foyer filings,” a Comcast spokesperson responded. “As you word the agency filed a corrected submitting.”

Comcast hasn’t publicly opposed Sohn’s nomination. “Gigi Sohn has been an advocate for customers for a few years and would deliver her tireless advocacy on the vital concern of connecting all Individuals to broadband again to the FCC. Now we have lengthy shared that dedication,” Comcast said in October after Biden introduced his selection.

Swing vote Sinema could also be lobbyist’s goal

Politico wrote on Tuesday that Adams has “deep ties to Arizona, a state whose senior senator might maintain the important thing to confirming Gigi Sohn for an open seat on the FCC.” That US senator from Arizona is Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, a member of the Commerce Committee. “Sinema, who has usually aligned extra with Republicans and Web service suppliers like Comcast over the remainder of her get together on the problem of internet neutrality, has not but revealed whether or not she’s going to vote for Sohn,” Politico wrote.

A story in The Hill famous that Adams is a “former Republican speaker of the Arizona Home of Representatives.” Adams was Arizona Home speaker from 2008 to 2011 and chief of employees to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey from 2015 to 2018.

Politico additionally identified that one other newly retained Comcast lobbyist used to work for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Manchin may be a swing vote if Sohn’s nomination reaches the Senate flooring. “Comcast retained Larry Puccio, who was Manchin’s [chief of staff] as governor of West Virginia and has remained shut with the swing vote senator, and fellow West Virginia lobbyist Angel Moore, on the finish of November, in response to a newly filed disclosure,” Politico wrote.

The disclosure for Puccio and Moore lists “telecommunications—broadband deployment and adoption” as their lobbying points, with no point out of FCC nominations.

FCC’s 2-2 impasse persists

Sohn’s affirmation would break a 2-2 impasse between Democrats and Republicans that has continued all through Biden’s time period as president. Sohn has a protracted historical past as a shopper advocate and has faced loads of opposition from Senate Republicans.

“The Federal Communications Fee has been with out a governing majority for your entire Biden administration,” Free Press wrote in its electronic mail to members. “That implies that the company hasn’t been in a position to do issues like restore internet neutrality and the FCC’s authority over high-speed Web, start the method of reckoning with its shameful historical past on race or restore the entire harm completed in the course of the Trump years.”

Biden nominated Sohn on October 26, 2021, and resubmitted the nomination on January 4. A Commerce Committee spokesperson mentioned the committee might vote on Sohn’s nomination in the course of the week of January 24, in response to Politico.

A Democratic majority is required for the FCC “to start the method of reversing the misguided selections of the [Ajit] Pai FCC and reasserting its authority over broadband, a vital service that at the moment lacks any significant federal oversight,” a coalition of advocacy teams wrote Tuesday. These teams are the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, Demand Progress, Digital Frontier Basis, Combat for the Future, Free Press Motion, MediaJustice, Open Expertise Institute, Public Information, and United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry.

“For greater than a yr, the FCC has been working with out a full slate of commissioners, hampering its capability to advance the entire essential duties on its agenda… All of those proceedings want a totally functioning FCC, which suggests Ms. Sohn must be voted out of the Committee this month and moved to the total Senate for a flooring vote,” the teams wrote. “The time for these votes is now.”

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