Connolly, Furchtgott-Roth: Latest Names to Surface For FCC Seat

The buzz around D.C. Thursday (May 16) was that Michelle Connolly, economics professor at Duke and former chief economist at the FCC under Republican Chairman Kevin Martin, was another possible replacement for the FCC seat of Commissioner Robert McDowell, though one source suggested she might not want to make the move.Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose staff has been vetting candidates, had reportedly asked that they spread their search beyond Hill staffers to include academics.

Christopher Yoo, a professor and network neutrality rule critic, had been talked about on the Hill, but he told B&C/Multi a couple of weeks ago that he had asked McConnell staffers to take his name out of consideration.

Connolly was chief economist at the FCC for two stints between 2006 and 2009 and was an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the 1990’s. She is a Yale graduate.

Connolly had not returned multiple requests for comment at press time.

Yet another name that has surfaced in the last few days is that of veteran communications attorney Harold Furchtgott-Roth, who has already served one stint as a commissioner (so, it would kind of be like Grover Cleveland). Furchtgott-Roth had been at the Hudson Institute as a senior fellow after leaving the commission–coincidentally where McDowell is heading after he exits Friday (May 17).

Other names that have been said to be in the hat at one time or another (yes, I’m hedging my bets big time here) include Neil Fried, senior telecommunications counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Ray Baum, former Oregon Public Utility Commission chairman and current top adviser to House Communications Subcommittee Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.); Michael O’Rielly, a staffer with Senate Republican John Cornyn (Tex.); and former Scripps Networks Chief Legal Officer A.B. Cruz.

Of course, a name could come out of left field (or Kentucky), as has been the case before. One source said they thought McConnell had whittled the field to a candidate.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.