Comcast’s hiring of a new lobbyist is part of an attempt to “torpedo” President Joe Biden’s nomination of Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission, advocacy group Free Press claimed yesterday.
“Comcast just hired a lobbying firm to try to torpedo Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the FCC. The company clearly knows Sohn will be working for people, not companies,” the Free Press wrote in an email to members. The email asked people to call Commerce Committee Chair Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to request a vote on Sohn’s nomination by the end of January.
Comcast’s newly hired lobbyist is Kirk Adams of Consilium Consulting in Phoenix, Arizona. Adams’ Lobbying Disclosure, filed with Congress Jan. 6, lists a specific lobbying issue he is expected to work on: “FCC nominations.” A amended version the lobbying registration filed about 11 hours later deleted “FCC nominations” and replaced it with “telecoms policy.”
We asked Comcast if it hired Adams to campaign against the Son nomination and why the change was made to the lobbying registration document. “We do not comment on lobbying submissions,” a Comcast spokesperson replied. “As you note, the company has filed a corrected application.”
Comcast has not publicly declined Sohn’s nomination. “Gigi Sohn has been a consumer advocate for many years and would bring back to the FCC her tireless advocacy on the critical issue of broadband connectivity for all Americans. We have shared this commitment for a long time.” Comcast said in October after Biden announced his election.
Sinema vote could be the target of lobbyists
Politico wrote on Tuesday that Adams “has deep ties to Arizona, a state whose senior senator may hold the key to confirming Gigi Sohn for an open seat with the FCC.” This US Senator from Arizona is Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, a member of the Commerce Committee. “Sinema, who has typically sided with Republicans and internet service providers like Comcast rather than the rest of her party on the net neutrality issue, has not yet revealed whether she will vote for Sohn,” Political wrote.
ONE story in The Hill noted that Adams was a “former Republican Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives.” Adams served as Speaker of the Arizona House from 2008 to 2011 and as Chief of Staff to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey from 2015 to 2018.
Politico also noted that another newly hired Comcast lobbyist used to work for Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.). Manchin could also be a pendulum vote if Sohn’s nomination reaches the Senate. “Comcast kept Larry Puccio who owned Manchin [chief of staff] as West Virginia governor and has remained close in late November with swing-voting Senator and fellow West Virginia senator Angel Moore, according to a newly filed disclosure,” Politico wrote.
the Disclosure for Puccio and Moore list “Telecoms – Broadband Deployment and Adoption” as their lobbying topics, with no mention of FCC nominations.
The FCC’s 2-2 blockade remains in place
Sohn’s confirmation would break a 2-2 impasse between Democrats and Republicans that persisted during Biden’s tenure as president. Sohn has a long history as a consumer advocate and has faced much opposition from Senate Republicans.
“The Federal Communications Commission was without a government majority for the entire Biden administration,” the Free Press wrote in its email to members. “That means the agency hasn’t been able to do things like restore net neutrality and the FCC’s authority over high-speed internet, begin the process of settling accounts with its shameful history of the race, or repair all of the damage done during of the Trump years.”
Biden nominated Sohn on October 26, 2021 and resubmitted the nomination on January 4. A spokesman for the Commerce Committee said the committee could vote on Sohn’s nomination during the week of Jan. 24, according to Politico.
A democratic majority is required for the FCC to “begin the process of reversing the FCC’s misguided decisions [Ajit] Pai FCC and the affirmation of its authority over broadband, an essential service not currently subject to meaningful federal oversight,” a coalition of advocacy groups wrote on Tuesday. These groups are the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action, MediaJustice, Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, and United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry.
“For more than a year, the FCC has operated without a full roster of commissioners, hampering its ability to advance all of the important items on its agenda… All of these procedures need a fully operational FCC, which means Ms. Sohn needs to be voted out of the committee this month and brought to the Senate plenary for a vote,” the groups wrote. “The time for those votes is now.”
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