Bush summit sans media
Broadcast, cable executives absent from industry summit on economic agenda; a few make 400-plus transition team
By Paige Albiniak -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/7/2001 7:00:00 PM
Pushing to get his administration at least partly in place before Inauguration Day, President-elect George W. Bush last week held a summit with industry leaders to set an economic agenda for his administration.
With the economy-and particularly the technology sector-slowing, the new administration likely will be challenged to maintain public approval in the face of a less booming economy.
Notably absent from the summit were any heads of media-related companies, although technology interests were heavily represented. Notable among those were Intel President Craig Barrett, Cisco President John Chambers, Dell Computer Chairman Michael Dell, Verizon Communications President Ivan Seidenberg, GE Chairman Jack Welch, IBM Chairman Lou Gerstner, Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy. Stephen Brobeck, president of the Consumer Federation of America, represented the public's interests.
Summit attendees got some good news when the Federal Reserve lowered two key interest rates during their meeting. Besides praising that move, attendees talked about the U.S. trade imbalances and tax cuts.
A few more media-friendly types are on the 447-person transition team Bush set up to assemble his Cabinet and agencies.
Helping with appointments at the Commerce Department are AT&T General Counsel Jim Cicconi and former Senate Commerce Chairman Larry Pressler (a Republican who was instrumental in the revamping of the Communications Act). Cicconi, a former White House aide to President George Bush, has been advising the Bush campaign since its early stages.
Washington sources say Pressler has submitted his name to become head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency within the Commerce Department that is currently headed by former Senate staffer Gregory Rohde. Sources also say wireless companies are advocating that Rohde, a Democrat, keep his post because he is already knowledgeable about advanced wireless Internet services.
FCC Chairman Richard Wiley, founding partner of the law firm of Wiley, Rein and Fielding and a key adviser to the presidential campaign, is advising Bush on FCC appointments as is Cablevision Systems CEO Charles Dolan.
Sources expect Commissioner Michael Powell to become chairman of the agency, although Texas Public Utilities Commission Chairman Pat Wood is said to still be lobbying hard for the job. Wood had been positioned to become chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but an incumbent on that body, Republican Curt Herbert, appears to be the front-runner. Bush may nominate Wood to a seat on the FCC.
Wood also is advising Bush on his appointments to the Department of Energy.
Not listed as part of the transition advisory team but names to know if you are angling for a telco-realted post are Kevin Martin, a Bush campaign deputy counsel, and Tim Adams, former managing director of the Washington-based G7 Group. Martin, a former aide to FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth, is doing the real work on FCC appointments, while Adams is focusing on technology-related posts, particularly at the NTIA, sources say.
Finally, helping with Justice Department appointments is Rita Hauser, prominent lawyer, peace advocate and wife of Hauser Communications Chairman Gus Hauser, who sold his Maryland-based cable systems to SBC Corp. in 1994.
- Bill McConnell and John M. Higgins contributed to this report.
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