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GOP senators blast FCC chief over states’ rights comments

By   /   June 9, 2014  /   No Comments

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THEY’RE NOT HAPPY WITH YOU: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is drawing the ire of senators over his comments about municipal-owned Internet providers.

 

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.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE LETTER

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 jpeterson@watchdog.org.  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.

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Josh Peterson is a DC-based tech reporter for the Franklin Center's Watchdog.org news site. Peterson previously spent two years at The Daily Caller covering tech and telecom regulatory policy as the publication's Tech Editor. During that time, he focused on cybersecurity, privacy, civil liberties, and intellectual property issues, and in addition to covering political protest movements. Prior to joining The Daily Caller in October 2011, Peterson spent time in DC researching and reporting on technology issues in internship roles with Hillsdale College's Kirby Center, Broadband Breakfast and The National Journalism Center, and The Heritage Foundation. Peterson has a B.A. in Religion and Philosophy from Hillsdale College. He is also a musician and music enthusiast, and an avid martial artist.

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