Republican Federal Communications Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker on Friday defended her decision to leave the agency for a lobbying job with cable provider Comcast and pushed back against critics who questioned her impartiality.
Baker, who voted to allow Comcast to merge with NBC Universal last January, attracted considerable criticism this week when she said she was going to work for the newly merged company.
Baker denied that she was compromised by any discussion with Comcast.
“Not once in my entire tenure as a Commissioner had anyone at Comcast or NBC/Universal approached me about potential employment,” she said in a statement. “When this opportunity became available in mid-April, I made a personal decision that I wanted to give it serious consideration.”
Baker said until late spring, she planned to seek renomination to the commission. Once she decided to consider the job offer, Baker said she immediately notified FCC General Counsel Austin Schlick. On April 18, she officially recused herself from any issues related to Comcast, she said.
Baker was not at Thursday’s FCC meeting, and she did not join the rest of the commission in testifying before a House subcommittee on Friday.
“I have not only complied with the legal and ethical laws, but I also have gone further,” she wrote. “I have not participated or voted any item, not just those related to Comcast or NBC/Universal, since entering discussions about an offer of potential employment.”
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said on Thursday that Baker’s decision “further confirms my suspicion that the commission’s merger review -- in cooperation with the Department of Justice -- was overly politicized and rammed through in blatant disregard for the agencies’ responsibility to the American people.”
And The New York Times editorial board asserted that Baker’s decision, while not unusual for government officials, “will only add to Americans’ cynicism about their government.”
"I will of course comply with all government ethics and Obama pledge restrictions going forward," Baker wrote.