By Josh Peterson | Watchdog.org
A group of Republican senators have a message for the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission: Back off.
In a letter sent to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday, nine Republican Senators rebuked Wheeler for his expressed intent to ignore state laws banning Internet services funded by municipalities.
Wheeler’s remarks were made to an audience of cable industry professionals in April, which Watchdog.org previously reported.
Wheeler, a former cable industry lobbyist, also signaled his intent in February to sidestep state broadband laws.
“The insinuation that the Federal Communications Commission will force taxpayer funded competition against private broadband providers — against the wishes of the states — is deeply troubling,” said the senators.
“Inserting the Commission into states’ economic and fiscal affairs in such a cavalier fashion shows a lack of respect for states’ rights,” they said.
Republican Sens. Deb Fisher, Ron Johnson, Ted Cruz, Mike Enzi, John Barrasso, Pat Roberts, Lamar Alexander, John Cornyn and Tom Coburn, Tim Scott and Marco Rubio all signed the letter — a copy of which was obtained by Watchdog.org.
As the agency continues to grapple with a dynamic technology and media landscape, issues such as net neutrality and government newsrooms surveys keep Wheeler’s tenure mired in controversy.
Condemning Wheeler’s community broadband experiment as “an unnecessary and risky government liability,” the senators reminded Wheeler of the role states play in the nation’s political structure.
“State political leaders are accountable to the voters who elect them, and the Commission would be well-advised to respect state sovereignty,” said the senators.
“We look forward to your timely response, and we hope you will think critically about the Commission’s role and how it can more appropriately interact with our state authorities,” they said.
Contact Josh Peterson at [email protected]. Follow Josh on Twitter at @jdpeterson
Editor’s Note: This piece was updated to reflect that Republican Sens. Tim Scott and Marco Rubio also signed the letter.