The FCC is a Captured  Agency

The FCC is a captured agency exemplifying the way industry controls the agencies that supposedly regulate them.

At the FCC, former wireless company lawyers and lobbyists lead the agency as commissioners. Former FCC commissioners and top agency officials take jobs in the industry they used to regulate. It is a high-speed revolving door, and it spins for both political parties. The Harvard Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics published an expose by investigative journalist Norm Alster on the financial ties between the US federal government’s  Federal communications Commission (FCC) and how, as a result, the wireless industry has bought inordinate access to—and power over—a major US regulatory agency. Alster describes how  the FCC is a “captured agency” meaning it is controlled by the industry it is supposed to be regulating- like the wolf watching the henhouse.

For example, in 2013, President Obama appointed Tom Wheeler to head the FCC. Wheeler, a fundraiser for Obama in the 2008 election, was a lobbyist and head of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA). As head of the wireless industry, Wheeler was accused of suppressing science. A 2003 inductee into the Wireless Hall of Fame (yes, there is such a thing), Wheeler laid the groundwork for 5G, pushing through regulations to strip local authority. 

In 2017, President Trump appointed Ajit Pai, a former Verizon Lawyer and attorney for D.C. powerhouse Wiley Rein, which represents the wireless industry, to head the FCC. Pai had already been a member of the commission, having been appointed by President Obama in 2011 — upon the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — to fill a “Republican” seat on the five-member board.

Former FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker is now head of the CTIA — The Wireless Association. The CTIA is a powerful lobby group fighting to stop any cell phone right to know legislation and promoting 5G streamlining bills nationwide.  Baker was nominated to the FCC in 2009 and had previously worked as the CTIA director of congressional affairs and is a former lead lobbyist for NBC Universal. 

Thomas M. Johnson Jr. is  general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission appointed by Ajit Pai  and previously worked for the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP which represented the CTIA — The Wireless Association who sued the City of Berkeley in federal court, seeking to topple the city’s recently enacted cell phone right to know ordinance mandating disclosure of possible radiation hazards associated with use of cellphones. 

Other past and present officials also have conflicts of interest. Welcome to the revolving door of wireless companies. 

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr was appointed by President Trump. He too is a former lawyer for Wiley Rein, which is currently suing San Francisco over the city’s cell phone ordinance. Carr’s wife is the staff director for the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee.

Longtime telecom lawyer Nathan A.Nathan Simington will replace FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly in 2020.  Simington worked for years as senior counsel at Brightstar “the leading trader in used wireless devices” then in 2020 started as senior adviser at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration within the Department of Commerce. Now he will be FCC commissioner. 

Former FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is now a managing director of the U.S. buyout team at Carlyle Group. The team’s focus is on acquisitions and growth investments in global technology, media and telecom, including Internet and mobile.

Former FCC commissioner Michael Powell is now president & CEO of NCTA.

Bruce Romano, former legal chief in the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology, is now at the law firm of Wiley Rein, representing the CTIA

Julius Genachowski former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and now is a Managing Director in the U.S. Buyout team of the global telecommunications, media and technology group, focusing on acquisitions and growth investments in global technology, media and telecom, including Internet and mobile at Carlyle Group.

Share Source: Environmental Health Trust