Russell, Tate Poised For FCC Nods


According to several sources, the White House is said to be preparing to nominate Tennessee regulatory utility commissioner Deborah Tate and administration technology-policy adviser Richard Russell to fill the one vacant and one soon-to-be-vacant Republican seats on the Federal Communications Commission.

It is not yet a done deal--the White House was not commenting on the nominations at press time--but late Friday those names topped the list in legal and FCC circles.

Tate, described as a "solid, reliable Republican" by one well-placed observer, is a member of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority and had been on several short lists for the FCC.

Richard Russell is senior director for Technology and Telecommunications at the National Economic Council. He was also advising the administration on potential FCC nominees and is said to have thrown his own hat in the ring in what might be called the Dick Cheney maneuver.

Russell also is an associate director with the administration’s Office of Science and Technology.

Prior to joining the White House in 2001, Russell worked for six years as a senior staffer for the House Science Committee and has a background in technology and environmental policy.

Tate, who was appointed to a six-year term as a director--and one year as chairman--of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) in February 2002, is no stranger to the FCC. In December 2003, Powell named her to the Federal Communications Commission's Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Telecommunications Services.

She also has been active on the voice over internet protocol front (VOIP), weighing in at the FCC in her capacity as chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Washington Action Committee.

Tate's resume includes legal counsel  former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander and assistant to former governor Don Sundquist, who appointed her to the TRA.

She might also have some insight into the video news release flap since one of her past government roles is described in her TRA bio as "oversight of multiple public relations contracts, television, radio and print advertising to assist in the development of numerous public-private partnerships to maximize public dollars, including the first Governor’s Summit for Tennessee’s Children and “BEST”- a behavioral violence prevention program for young pre-school children."

The two open Republican seats are that of Chairman Michael Powell, who exited in March and was replaced by sitting commissioner Kevin Martin, and Kathleen Abernathy, who is ready to leave whenever the nominee can be confirmed.

Abernathy's term expired in June 2004, but she was allowed to stay on until either the end of 2005 or a successor was installed.