Free market economist Jeffrey Eisenach has been officially named to the FCC transition team for President-elect Donald Trump, according to sources familiar with the move. He had been overseeing the telecom/tech transition but will drill down on that agency.
The FCC will need a new chair and probably at least one Democrat. If Jessica Rosenworcel's renomination does not get a full Senate vote, which it likely will not, she must exit when the new Congress is seated in early January.
By custom that pick would be deferred to new minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). But Trump has campaigned on shaking up convention, so Schumer might not get the pick, though Trump tweeted following Schumer's selection to the post: "I have always had a good relationship with Chuck Schumer. He is far smarter than Harry R and has the ability to get things done. Good news!"
Eisenach—managing director and co-chair of the Communications, Media, and Internet Practice at NERA Economic Consulting, as well as a visiting scholar at free market think tank the American Enterprise Institute—also is a leading candidate to be the next chairman of the FCC.
Eisenach has been working on the telecom side of the Trump transition team. He has experience in presidential transitions, having been a member of the Reagan-Bush transition team in 1980-81, working on the FTC, and the 2000-2001 Bush-Cheney transition team for the FCC.
Mark Fowler had a similar transition position for the Reagan team in 1980-81, and he wound up being named chairman, as did Tom Wheeler for the Obama Administration, though his appointment came in the second term, after Obama Harvard classmate Julius Genachowski had gotten the post.
Also in the mix is current senior Republican commissioner Ajit Pai, who would almost certainly be interim chairman at least during the changeover after current chairman Tom Wheeler exits and before a new chair can be vetted, voted and sworn in.
Fortune magazine was reporting that Trump had also named Mark Jamison, head of the University of Florida’s Public Utility Research Center, to the FCC transition team.
Eisenach is no fan of the FCC's network neutrality regs, sharing that sentiment with President-elect Donald Trump. As a consultant, he has written papers for the National Association of Broadcasters on broadcasters' property rights in the spectrum incentive auction and a study buttressing retransmission consent as a net positive, saying "the success of the U.S. retransmission consent regime provides a useful example for other nations in which television broadcasting faces increasing competition from pay TV, internet-based distributors, and other media."
In his consulting practice, he has testified in front of the FCC and Congress on communications, including testifying against the ISP monopoly power argument for internet regs
He is also the former president of the deregulatory think tank Progress and Freedom Foundation.
Eisenach has held posts at the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of Management and Budget.
He is an adjunct professor at the George Mason University School of Law and has taught at Harvard's Kennedy School of Law.