House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., says he is seeking more information about Federal Communications Commission member Meredith Atwell Baker’s decision to take a job with Comcast/NBCUniversal.
In a letter sent on Wednesday, Issa wrote that it appears Baker followed all ethics rules but acknowledged that her departure, only months after she voted to approve Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal, raised questions.
“Based on the public statements of both Commissioner Baker and the FCC, it does not appear that she violated any of her legal or ethical obligations in accepting a position with Comcast,” Issa writes. “Nevertheless, because only a short time has passed since the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger, it is imperative that the public can trust the integrity of the process.”
Issa asks FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski five questions about FCC regulations and how they’re enforced; when Baker notified the FCC about her decision to leave; when she recused herself; and from which proceedings she has recused herself. Issa also requests a staff briefing by Tuesday.
The media reform group Free Press has attacked Baker for leaving to lobby for Comcast/NBCUniversal and has asked its members to petition Congress to investigate the move.
“Even the appearance of corruption erodes the American people’s confidence in the government, and Commissioner Baker’s departure for Comcast highlights the problem of the revolving door between government and industry in Washington,” Free Press says in a letter to Issa.
Baker has defended her decision to take the job as senior vice president of government affairs and said she never discussed the job while considering issues at the FCC.
“I have not only complied with the legal and ethical laws, but I also have gone further,” she said in a statement. “I have not participated or voted on any item, not just those related to Comcast or NBC/Universal, since entering discussions about an offer of potential employment.”
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