Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has asked the FCC for a
Tuesday, May 24, briefing with House staffers on the departure of Commissioner
Meredith Attwell Baker from the commission for a job with Comcast/NBCU.
Issa is chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform
committee, which was not reluctant to query the FCC over contacts it had with
the White House during the debate over new network neutrality rules.
A letter, sent last week to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski,
asked for the meeting as well as answers to some questions (See below).
Baker responded to news of the letter late Friday: "A spokesman for Commissioner Baker said
that she welcomes Chairman Issa's interest and this additional opportunity to
set forth the facts regarding her decision to leave the Commission."
Baker and Comcast have both said she followed all ethics rules,
while some of the Comcast/NBCU deal critics have complained that the revolving
door of government-to-industry came too soon after she voted to approve the
merger back in January.
Issa pointed out that both the FCC and Baker said she went
by the book, as it were, in coordination with FCC lawyers. But Issa said that
given the criticism of the move and its proximity to the approval of the deal,
he wanted to make sure that the public can trust "the integrity of the
Issa asked the FCC to answer five questions:
1. What regs applied to her departure?
2. How did Baker and the FCC ensure they were followed?
3. When did Baker notify the FCC General Counsel's office
she was in discussions with Comcast?
4. When did Baker begin recusing herself from proceedings?
5. From what did Baker recuse herself?
Comcast EVP David Cohen said last week that Comcast had to
move quickly since Bakers' renomination to another term was in the works--her
current term expires at the end of June, though she could have continued to
serve through the end of next year.
"We're pleased to see that Chairman Issa has responded to
the many Americans who are deeply troubled by the revolving door between Comcast
and the FCC exemplified by Commissioner Baker's jaw-droppingly fast transition
from regulator to lobbyist," aid Craig Aaron, president of Free Press,
which was one of the Comcast/NBCU deals biggest critics.
"As Chairman Issa suggests, the American people deserve to
know whether their public servants are truly serving them, or just auditioning
for industry jobs. We hope Chairman Issa gives them the investigation they've
demanded, and the one they deserve."