NEWS UPDATE: The House approved a controversial GOP amendment Thursday that would terminate the salary of Mark Lloyd, the Chief Diversity Officer for the Democratic-led Federal Communications Commission.
When the FCC hired Lloyd, a former civil rights activist and professor, in 2009 for this newly created position, Republicans in Congress were outraged because he had criticized conservative talk radio and suggested that the Fairness Doctrine, a long-defunct rule requiring equal airtime for opposing views, was never formally repealed. Dubbed the FCC's "Diversity Czar" by critics, Lloyd received death threats but hung onto his job.
Now it's political payback time.
The measure from Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., which passed 249 to 179, was added to the Continuing Resolution that would fund the government for the remainder of fiscal 2011. Lloyd also holds the position of Associate General Counsel for the FCC.
The amendment further targets the salaries of other so-called Obama administration czars on automotive issues, climate change, energy, executive compensation, health care, urban affairs and closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
In another swipe at the FCC, the House Thursday approved a measure from Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., that would block the commission from using its 2011 appropriations to implement network neutrality rules approved by the agency's Democrats in December. See related coverage here.
"It is time that we end this practice by President Obama of creating a shadow government run by czars with cabinet-level powers who circumvent the accountability and scrutiny that comes with Senate confirmation required by the Constitution," said Scalise, a member of Walden's panel, in a statement.
"Hardworking American families should not be forced to pay millions of dollars to fund these czars who are implementing radical policies under the cloak of darkness rather than going through the open and transparent process that we were promised," Scalise added.
Defending Lloyd on the floor was Rep. Anna Eshoo, the subcommittee's ranking Democrat, who said the FCC official should not be targeted because he's tasked with expanding opportunities for women and minorities "in the marketplace."
"Mark Lloyd, a respected civil rights activist and historian, is the victim of a Fox News-fueled conspiracy theory that has no basis in reality," insisted Craig Aaron, managing director at Free Press, a media watchdog group, in a Thursday statement. "For the House of Representatives to target a public servant for abuse based on the incoherent ranting of Glenn Beck is appalling and absurd," he said, referring the Fox TV host, who has denounced Lloyd on his show.
"Anyone who believes the media should strive to represent the diversity of this country should be nauseated by this disgraceful attack," Aaron added.
Among the lawmakers incensed back in 2009 over Lloyd's hiring was Walden, who told National Journal at the time that he finds the regulator's views "offensive."