Bart Stupak Slams FCC

Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak on C-SPAN says FCC trying to run down clock on oversight investigation.

The head of the congressional committee investigating the FCC says the reason that investigation has taken almost a year, with a report not yet finalized, is because of the FCC's attempt to run out the clock by being uncooperative.

"The way FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has run the commission is not the way it is supposed to be run," said Bart Stupak (D-MI) in an interview for The Communicators series on C-SPAN. Stupak is a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, the Telecommunications Subcommittee, and is chairman of the investigations and oversight subcommittee, which has been investigating the FCC over complaints about how it is run.

Stupak said the report on the FCC is being finalized and that "certain individuals" have been asked to talk to the committee, but have delined. He declined to identify them, but they are key staffers of Chairman Martin. Stupak said they have been given a deadline—Friday, according to a source—after which the report will be released and their lack of cooperation noted

A source close to the chairman said he was still weighing his options at press time.

Stupak would not talk about specifics, but indicated the report would not reflect well on Martin's management of the agency. 

"We're just giving some individuals who are brought up in this report, not necessarily in a favorable light, an opportunity to comment on the report."

Stupak said he did not think the FCC had followed the "intent or spirit" of the law. "The FCC has always been one of those agencies where people think they can get a fair, impartial hearing based on the facts. Unfortunately, I don't think that has happened in the last few years."

Stupak said he did not envision any hearings on the FCC this year, but said after the report is released, he could see case studies cited in the report being the subject of hearings. He also said it might help future chairmen to see some of the errors and how Congress reacted to it.

Stupak's office said Thursday the report was expected to go out within the next two weeks. The investigation has been going on for a year.

Stupak blamed the FCC for the delays: "You put out deadlines and they will drop 40,000 pages on you... Quite honestly, what has dragged out this one? The constant avoiding of deadlines, the dragging of feet, the refusal to voluntarily come in to testify, and they are trying to run out the clock out on us." 

"We have been very cooperative with Congress, and we have provided them with all the documents they requested," said Rob Kenny, a spokesman for the chairman. "FCC procedures under Chairman Martin have been the same as those under Republican and Democratic chairmen for the past decade," he added. "The chairman has provided three-week notice to fellow commissioners on all monthly agenda items. In addition, he also released details on his proposals publicly by holding press conferences in advance of the meeting."