FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell was the main attraction at Fox's holiday party in Washington Tuesday night, even topping the crab puffs and various wines for the tasting.
McDowell pointed out to a clutch of reporters that he had not recused himself from the AT&T/Bell South merger review.
Was that a headline that should have rung bells in ancient AP machines? Not exactly.
Procedurally, he has an automatic red light on the merger–rather than a self-imposed one–per ethics rules because of the appearance of a conflict of interest with his former boss, telecom lobby COMPTEL, which weighed in on the merger with its concerns.
That red light lasts until June of next year. But he can get a green light from the FCC general counsel if the commission decides it is in the government's and public's interest for him to vote.
When might he get that word. McDowell said he was not trying to be evasive but has no idea.
He also said, when asked by a witty reporter who shall remain nameless, that he had not gotten a letter from Congressmen John Dingell or Ed Markey asking him for his shoe size.
The two soon-to-be leaders of the House Commerce committee and telecom subcommittee, respectively, sent a letter to the FCC's general counsel Tuesday asking a boatload of questions about the possible unrecusal.
Oh, and the crab puffs were very good, as was a Greek sparkling wine whose name I wrote down somewhere and have now lost the sheet of paper. Nope, found it. Spiropoulos Ode de Panos. Then there was that Anima Negra 2004….
By John Eggerton