FCC's revolving door into telcos probed

The US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating the mysterious revolving door which appears to have been installed between the FCC and big telcos.

Darrell Issa is a little concerned that FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker moved from the FCC to a top government affairs job at Comcast/NBC Universal, soon after allowing the same outfit to buy a majority stake in NBC.

Issa told Ars Technica that based on Baker’s own statements about the process, which led to the job offer, it does not appear Baker violated any of her legal or ethical obligations in accepting a position with Comcast.

However, since only a short time has passed since the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, it is imperative that the public can trust the integrity of the process.

He wants answers to five basic questions – although we suspect the answers might be a bit involved.

Issa wants to know exactly what regulations and FCC policies/procedures apply to Commissioner Baker’s departure and what efforts were taken to make sure these rules were followed.

Issa is interested in the date Baker notified the FCC General Counsel’s office that she was engaged in communications with Comcast about a possible job opportunity. And at which point Baker said she started declaring an interest in FCC doings.

Although it sounds promising, it is unlikely to reveal much or result in many changes.

The FCC has lots of laws preventing its staff from becoming lobbyists.

However, it would be difficult to prove if any of them had been given a job as a sweetener to approve a tricky deal, or just because they liked the way a particular staff member worked.