Media Reports Regarding Auction Waiver Raise Cloud of Favoritism to Administration Allies
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today expressed concern with media reports that highlight irregular FCC process and that allies of President Obama are receiving special treatment by the Federal Communications Commission. Bloomberg News broke the story that Grain Management LLC, a private equity firm owned by a top backer of President Obama, won a waiver of the FCC’s auction rules. The waiver would permit Grain to circumvent commission rules designed to ensure the independence of small businesses that receive bidding credits in FCC auctions. This waiver effectively changes the rules for auction participants without public review and Upton and Walden are concerned that this action undermines the policy the rules are designed to support. The Energy and Commerce Committee has been actively conducting oversight of the FCC and pursuing process reforms at the agency.
Upton and Walden commented, “The process is clearly broken, and something smells rotten on the 8th floor. FCC action, especially at the behest of those with real or perceived political connections, should be done by the book and far above reproach. Process rules are in place for a reason, and there is a transparent process available if the commission wants to pursue changes to the rules. Instead, a troubling pattern of process neglect is emerging, leaving a commission that too often shrouds its work in secrecy and takes shortcuts to impose its desired policies. This action raises additional questions about the decision-making process at the FCC and underscores the need for additional transparency and process reform.”