Comcast’s hiring of a new lobbyist is part of an attempt to “torpedo” Chairman Joe Biden’s nomination of Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission, advocacy group Free Press claimed yesterday.
“Comcast has just hired a lobbying firm to attempt to torpedo Gigi Sohn’s FCC nomination. The company clearly knows that Sohn will work for people, not businesses,” 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. Adam’s lobbying disclosure, which was filed with Congress on Jan. 6, lists one specific lobbying issue it expects to work on: “FCC appointments.” A Modified version of the lobbying registration filed approximately 11 hours later, deleted “FCC appointments” and replaced it with “telecommunications policy”.
We asked Comcast if it hired Adams to lobby against Sohn’s nomination and why the change was made to the lobbying registration document. “We do not comment on lobby statements,” a Comcast spokesperson responded. “As you note, the company has filed a corrected case.”
Comcast has not publicly objected to Sohn’s nomination. “Gigi Sohn has been a consumer advocate for many years and would bring her tireless advocacy on the critical issue of getting all Americans connected to broadband to the FCC. We have long shared this commitment,” Comcast said in October after Biden announced his choice.
Swing vote Sinema could be the target of a lobbyist
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 FCC seat.” This US senator from Arizona is Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, a member of the Commerce Committee. “Sinema, who generally aligns herself more with Republicans and internet service providers like Comcast than the rest of her party on the issue of net neutrality, has yet to reveal whether she will vote for Sohn,” Politics wrote.
A story in The Hill noted that Adams is a “former Republican Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives”. Adams was a speaker at the Arizona House from 2008 to 2011 and chief of staff to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey from 2015 to 2018.
Politico also pointed out that another lobbyist newly hired by Comcast worked for Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.). Manchin may also be a swing vote if Sohn’s nomination reaches the Senate floor. “Comcast retained Larry Puccio, who was the [chief of staff] as governor of West Virginia and remained close to swing-voting senator and fellow West Virginia lobbyist Angel Moore in late November, according to a new disclosure,” Politico wrote.
the disclosure for Puccio and Moore lists “telecommunications – broadband deployment and adoption” as their lobbying issues, without mentioning FCC nominations.
FCC 2-2 stalemate persists
Sohn’s confirmation would break a 2-2 stalemate between Democrats and Republicans that has persisted throughout 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 does not have a ruling majority for the entire Biden administration,” Free Press wrote in its email to members. “That means the agency has been unable to do things like restore net neutrality and FCC authority over high-speed internet, begin the process of addressing its shameful history on the race or repair all the damage done during the Trump years.”
Biden nominated Sohn on October 26, 2021 and resubmitted the nomination on January 4. A commerce committee spokesperson said the committee could vote on Sohn’s nomination during the week of Jan. 24, according to Politico.
A Democratic majority is needed for the FCC to “begin the process of reversing the flawed decisions of the [Ajit] Pai FCC and reaffirming its authority over broadband, an essential service that currently lacks any meaningful federal oversight,” a coalition of advocacy groups written 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 move forward with all of the important tasks on its agenda…All of these procedures require a fully functioning FCC, which means that Ms. Sohn is to be eliminated from the Committee this month and transferred to the full Senate for a floor vote,” the groups wrote. “The time for those votes is now.”
- Vote on Biden’s FCC pick delayed; Sohn faces another hearing and rocky path
- Republicans fight Biden FCC selection Gigi Sohn, saying she will censor Tories
- Biden FCC pick advances in Senate by 14-14 vote amid Republican opposition
- Biden praises ISPs for price cuts even as they “sabotage” his FCC nominee
- Ted Cruz asks how ‘regular Fox News watchers’ can trust candidate Biden FCC