Rep. Darrell Issa Wants Answers From FCC's Baker

May 23, 2011 -

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has decided that the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a key investigative body of Congress which he chairs, will investigate FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker's jump from the FCC to Comcast-NBC Universal.

In a letter sent to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Friday, Issa said that Baker's departure has “generated questions” because of her recent vote to approve the Comcast and NBC merger.

Issa said that Baker's own statements about the process which led to the job offer leads him to believe that "it does not appear [Baker] violated any of her legal or ethical obligations in accepting a position with Comcast.”

Still, he thinks an investigation is still warranted “because only a short time has passed since the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, it is imperative that the public can trust the integrity of the process."

Issa wants answers to five questions in order to “gain a better understanding of the rules that govern Commissioner Baker's departure."

Those questions are:

What regulations and FCC policies/procedures apply to Commissioner Baker's departure?

What actions did Commissioner Baker and the FCC take to ensure these rules were followed?

On what date did Commissioner Baker notify the FCC General Counsel's office that she was engaged in communications with Comcast about a possible job opportunity?

On what date did Commissioner Baker begin to recuse herself from matters and/or proceedings before the FCC?

For which matters/proceedings currently pending before the FCC has Commissioner Baker recused herself?

Issa wants those answers by May 31.

Free Press praised Issa's letter:

"We hope this letter is just the start - and that Congress will launch a serious inquiry that goes beyond the five basic questions asked here," said CEO Craig Aaron. "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."

Source: Ars Technica


Comments

Re: Rep. Darrell Issa Wants Answers From FCC's Baker

I'm glad Congress is asking questions, but I hope it isn't a rubber-stamp process.  Issa's remarks seem to suggest that he thinks she hasn't done anything wrong and it's the outraged public that needs to be educated on how things work.

It's entirely possible that Atwell Baker has violated no ethics rules, but if indeed that's the case I think we seriously need to examine the ethics rules.

It's standard practice in the private sector to require employees to pledge they won't quit and immediately go to work for a competitor.  I believe similar rules should be required for government officials going to work for companies their rulings or legislation has affected.

Re: Rep. Darrell Issa Wants Answers From FCC's Baker

Perhaps that should be extended to areas that politicians have worked in or have invested money in, for instance oil.

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