The battle between Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Joe Barton (R- Tex.) for the chairmanship of the House Energy & Commerce Committee has grabbed the headlines, but the campaign for ranking member of the Communications Subcommittee is kicking up some dust as well.
Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), one of the leading candidates, is getting pushback from one group over his stand on network neutrality.
James Rucker, executive director of ColorOfChange.org, has written House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to say he has "deep misgivings" about Rush given what he says is his "fierce" opposition to network neutrality.
Rucker characterizes his Internet-based group as a "community of more than 800,000 people working to strengthen Black America's politcal voice, 60,00 of which, he says, have "spoken up in support of strong of network neutrality rules." Rucker was formerly with Moveon.org, one of the first web-driven political action movements.
"As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee since 1995, I have worked tirelessly and effectively on a vast number of issues," Rush said in a statement. "My position on those issues as well as my sources of contributions are a matter of public record, he said. "I will not allow the Silicon Valley funded Color of Change.Org group, which purports to "strengthen Black America's political voice" through the Internet, to call into question my integrity and honesty to lead the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet as its Ranking Member."
"The notion that this Silicon Valley-controlled group should have the only word on what is in the best interests of people of color is foolish. When an organization rents a Silicon Valley glass house, they ought to be careful about throwing stones."
"Congressman Rush's baseless attack on ColorOfChange is a weak attempt to distract the public from the fact that he has reliably and consistently championed telecom industry profits over the interests of everyday Americans," Rucker reposnded. "Regardless of what the Congressman's record is on other issues, his practically unrestricted support for the Comcast-NBCU merger, his support for the COPE Act and his long record of advocacy against a free and open Internet all point to one fact: in the realm of telecommunications, Congressman Rush can't be counted on to fight hard for regular folks when the chips are down.
Congressman Rush doesn't dispute any of our letter's claims because he can't. Instead, he tries to smear us as "Silicon Valley controlled" - a laughable claim given our highly visible and highly successful campaign against Google just a few months ago. ColorOfChange stands on our record of advocacy, no matter who is on the other side. That's a quality we need in the subcommittee's Democratic leadership - and it's a quality Congressman Rush has failed to demonstrate."
The FCC is currently deciding how to expand and codify its network neutrality guidelines so that they pass legal muster.