FCC nominee's lobbyist background cited by critics
WASHINGTON — President Obama is expected to nominate Tom Wheeler, a friend and telecom industry executive, as head of the Federal Communications Commission as early as Wednesday, three people familiar with the administration's decision said.
Wheeler, a venture capital investor, would take over an agency struggling to keep up with enormous changes in the telecom industry as consumers turn to mobile devices and ultra-fast broadband Internet for news, communications and video entertainment.
Those policy issues would be fresh on the mind of the FCC nominee, who has served as adviser to both the White House and FCC on technology policy and industry trends.
But to the dismay of some critics, Wheeler comes with deep ties to the nation's biggest telecom lobbying groups. He has served as head of both the wireless industry's CTIA trade group and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, among the most powerful and deep-pocketed lobbying groups in Washington.
“I am skeptical that the former chief lobbyist of the wireless and cable industries will be capable of holding his former clients accountable for their ongoing shortcomings,” said Sascha Meinrath, head of the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation think tank.
Wheeler sits on the board of EarthLink, and his investment firm Core Capital Partners has invested in wireless equipment and data center technology firms.
That range of industry experience, some experts say, shows a diversity of experience that may serve well for an agency in need of greater technological and business expertise.
“He can't be pigeon-holed,” said Gigi Sohn, president of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge. “He's had a wide variety of experiences and has worked with competitive companies as well as incumbents. I truly believe he will be independent and thoughtful.”
The White House may also name sitting Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn to serve as interim chairman during Wheeler's Senate confirmation process, the three people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Outgoing chairman Julius Genachowski is expected to officially leave after the agency's next public meeting on May 9.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- White House evacuated for fence jumper
- Benghazi death prompts $2M suit
- License plate scanner networks gotcha
- FBI, federal marshals join manhunt for survivalist accused of ambushing troopers
- Red tide threatens Florida economy
- Al-Qaida cell poses as great a danger as ISIS
- Even record-setting retardant drops barely slow Calif. blaze
- Ten Commandments lawsuit tossed
- U.S., Canadian jets intercept 8 Russian aircraft
- White House targets sexual assaults on college campuses
- Texas Deputy found dead AUSTIN …