Bush taps three for FCC seats

Martin, Abernathy and Copps will be submitted once FBI clears them
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Republicans Kevin Martin and Kathleen Abernathy and Democrat Mike Copps are President George W. Bush's choices to fill the three open seats at the FCC. The fourth seat remains Gloria Tristani's, but last week House Democratic leadership backed Andy Levin, counsel to Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), for the post when Tristani departs.

The White House announced its choices last Friday. The nominations will not be sent to the Senate for confirmation until the FBI completes background checks on them.

Martin comes right from the FCC's ranks as a former aide to Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth. Martin also led the White House's FCC search. Abernathy is currently a lobbyist for the Broadband Office and a former partner at the Washington law firm of Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer. As a former aide to former FCC Chairman James Quello, she also is no stranger to the FCC.

Copps is a former staffer for Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) and more recently had been assistant secretary of commerce in charge of trade.

Tristani hasn't said when she plans to leave the commission, but forces are lining up to replace her. Last week, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and House Minority Whip David Bonior (D-Mich.) put their weight behind Levin. Dingell, who wields power both as ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House's longest-serving member, strongly supports Levin.

"Andy is widely viewed, both on and off Capitol Hill, as a superb candidate to address those challenges as an FCC Commissioner," they wrote in a letter to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.). "That is why we ask the Senate Democratic Leadership to join us in recommending him for the second Democratic seat."

Levin also has the support of key House Commerce Committee members Billy Tauzin (R-La.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.).