The White House Wednesday nominated Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps to a second term and Tennessee regulatory utility commissioner Deborah Tate to the vacant Republican seat of former Chairman Michael Powell.
Not getting the nod is Richard Russell, senior director for technology and telecommunications at the National Economic Council. He had been advising the administration on potential FCC nominees and threw his hat in the ring.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said of the news: “If confirmed, Debi Tate will be an excellent addition to the Commission. She has a distinguished career in state government, and she has worked closely with the Commission in her role as Director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority.
"Also, if confirmed, I look forward to continuing to work closely with Commissioner Copps. He has served admirably at the Commission for the past four years, and I respect his insight and thoughtfulness on issues before the Commission.
"I welcome both Debi and Michael, and I appreciate their continued dedication to public service.”
Copps responded: "I am deeply honored that the President has announced his intention to nominate me to serve another term as Commissioner of the Federal Communication Commission. If confirmed by the Senate, it would be a privilege to continue serving the American people.
I look forward to working with Congress, the Administration, the Chairman of the FCC and my fellow Commissioners to help bring the best, most accessible, and cost-effective communications system in the world to all of our people."
Tate is described as a "solid, reliable Republican" by one well-placed observer. She has been a member of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority and had been on several short lists for the FCC.
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 FCC'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.
Russell had been targeted for that seat, but was reportedly not a favorite of commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who is said still to be looking for another candidate for the Abernathy seat.
Abernathy's term expired in June 2004, but she is allowed to stay on until either the end of 2005 or a successor was installed.
The FCC is currently composed of two Republicans and two Democrats. Tate would give Martin the potential tie-breaking vote.
Following is the text of the nomination announcement:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release November 9, 2005
President George W. Bush today announced his intention to nominate eight individuals to serve in his Administration:
The President intends to nominate Michael Joseph Copps, of Virginia, to be Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission for the remainder of a five-year term expiring June 30, 2010. Since 2001, Mr. Copps has served as Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission. Prior to this, he served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Development at the Department of Commerce, where he was previously Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Basic Industries. Earlier in his career, Mr. Copps served for over 12 years as Chief of Staff for Senator Ernest Hollings. He also served as Director of Government Affairs at Collins and Aikman. Mr. Copps received his bachelor’s degree from Wofford College and his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The President intends to nominate Deborah Taylor Tate, of Tennessee, to be Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission for the remainder of a five-year term expiring June 30, 2007. Ms. Tate currently serves as Director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, during which time she also served for a one-year term as Chairman. In 2003, she was appointed to the Federal Communications Commission’s Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Telecommunications Services. Prior to this, she served as Director of the State and Local Policy Center at Vanderbilt University. Earlier in her career, Ms. Tate served as an Assistant to Governor Don Sundquist and Assistant Legal Counsel to Governor Lamar Alexander. Ms. Tate received her bachelor’s degree and JD from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.