Former FCC Official to Head Cell-Phone Lobby

Meredith Attwell Baker will leave Comcast for the wireless group CTIA.

FCC Meets To Discuss Net Neutrality Rules By: Chip Somodevilla Getty Images News
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
April 23, 2014, 7:53 a.m.

Ve­r­i­zon, AT&T, and the oth­er cell-phone ser­vice pro­viders have a new top lob­by­ist.

Meredith At­twell Baker, a former mem­ber of the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion, will be the new CEO of CTIA-The Wire­less As­so­ci­ation, the group an­nounced Wed­nes­day.

Baker, a Re­pub­lic­an, was a tar­get of fierce cri­ti­cism from con­sumer groups when she stepped down from the FCC in 2011 to be­come a lob­by­ist for Com­cast. Al­though top gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials of­ten join the in­flu­ence in­dustry, Baker’s move was con­sidered par­tic­u­larly os­ten­ta­tious be­cause she joined Com­cast just four months after vot­ing to ap­prove the cable gi­ant’s pur­chase of NBC-Uni­ver­sal.

Com­cast is now ramp­ing up its lob­by­ing force to get per­mis­sion to buy Time Warner Cable. Los­ing Baker will be a blow, but the com­pany still has an im­press­ive roster of lob­by­ists, in­clud­ing former Sens. Blanche Lin­coln and Don Nickles and former Reps. Robert Walk­er and Ron Klink.

At CTIA, Baker will re­place Steve Lar­gent, a Re­pub­lic­an, former Ok­lahoma con­gress­man, and NFL Hall of Fame wide re­ceiv­er who an­nounced his plan to re­tire last Oc­to­ber.

The ex­plos­ive growth of the wire­less in­dustry over the past dec­ade has helped CTIA be­come one of the most in­flu­en­tial lob­bies in Wash­ing­ton. A top pri­or­ity for the group is to gain ac­cess to more air­waves for the in­dustry. Sur­ging de­mand for wire­less data could lead to con­ges­tion and slower speeds for smart­phones in the com­ing years.

In a state­ment, Baker said she will de­vel­op a five-year plan for fu­ture use of the air­waves, and will put more em­phas­is on tech­nic­al and en­gin­eer­ing ex­pert­ise at the group. 

“I plan to bring new ideas and new ini­ti­at­ives to the as­so­ci­ation that will take it from good to great. We will re­cruit and keep the best and bright­est ex­perts in spec­trum and wire­less com­mu­nic­a­tions,” she said.

Baker will have to bal­ance the com­pet­ing in­terests of her group’s mem­bers. AT&T and Ve­r­i­zon are fre­quently at odds with the in­dustry’s smal­ler play­ers, such as Sprint and T-Mo­bile.

What We're Following See More »
JOINS BUSHES, MCCAIN
Romney to Skip Convention
15 minutes ago
THE LATEST

An aide to Mitt Romney confirmed to the Washington Post that the 2102 GOP nominee will not attend the Republican convention this year. He joins the two living Republican presidents, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, as well as 2008 nominee John McCain in skipping the event. Even among living Republican nominees, that leaves only Bob Dole who could conceivably show up. Dole did say in January that he'd prefer Trump to Ted Cruz, but his age (92) could keep him from attending.

Source:
CALIFORNIA MAKES IT 21
FDA to Ban All Tobacco Sales to Minors
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a long-awaiting new rule, the Food and Drug Administration will ban sale of all tobacco products—including e-cigarettes—to those under 18. The rule takes effect in 90 days. It's part of a larger package of regulations that "gives FDA authority to regulate—but not to ban—all tobacco products, from e-cigarettes to cigars and hookahs." Meanwhile, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill on Wednesday that would bump the legal age to buy all tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Source:
#NEVERTRUMP
Sen. Sasse Calls for a Third Candidate
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Sen. Ben Sasse, the most prominent elected official to declare that he's #NeverTrump, wrote an open letter on Facebook to the "majority of Americans who wonder why the nation that put a man on the moon can’t find a healthy leader who can take us forward together." Calling to mind recent conversations at a Fremont, Neb., Walmart, the senator pitted the presumptive general election battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as such a "terrible choice" that there would be an appetite for another candidate to emerge. In a parenthetical aside to reporters, Sasse ruled himself out. "Such a leader should be able to campaign 24/7 for the next six months," he wrote. "Therefore he/she likely can’t be an engaged parent with little kids." Meanwhile, his colleague Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) admitted in a private recording obtained by Politico that Trump hurts his reelection chances.

Source:
UTAH REPUBLICAN
Former Sen. Bob Bennett Dies at 82
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Former Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett died of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Bennett was defeated in a primary in 2010 by Tea Party–backed Mike Lee.

Source:
CLINTON HERSELF COULD TESTIFY LATER
Judge Approves Deposition of Clinton Aides
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, approved a joint proposal presented by Judicial Watch and the State Department to take the depositions of officials" involved in the setup and use of Hillary Clinton's private email server, "including Cheryl D. Mills, Clinton's former chief of staff, Huma Abedin, a senior adviser to Clinton, and Bryan Pagliano, a State Department employee who serviced and maintained the server." He said Clinton could be deposed later on, though that may not be necessary.

Source:
×