The FCC voted Thursday at its public meeting to propose fining AT&T over $600,000 for failure to comply with some wireless licenses, but not without some unusual procedure that signaled the ongoing partisan divide over process and transparency.
AT&T brought the failures to the commission voluntarily. Although the facts were not in dispute, the Republican members only concurred after they said they did not get information about the proposed fine until the 11th hour and had issues with the proposal to increase the base fine by over 400% due to what the FCC said was its egregiousness and given AT&T’s ability to pay, which is one factor the FCC uses to boost fines. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler countered that the Republicans had failed to engage until late in the process and had no room to complain.
In fact, the Republicans had not recorded a vote by the meeting's start, which prompted the unusual step of voting on the item before revealing at the meeting what it was about. FCC votes at public meetings are usually the formal acknowledgement of tallies that have already been recorded before the meeting starts.