Federal Communications Commission member Harold Furchtgott-Roth announced
Wednesday that he is leaving the agency once he has agreed on a departure date
with the Bush White House.
A Republican appointed in 1997 whose term expired last June, Furchtgott-Roth
stood out as an advocate for free markets over regulation and as a proponent of
minimizing FCC involvement in media and telecommunications mergers.
'There comes a time when every free-market advocate in government must
fulfill his dream of returning to the private sector,' Furchtgott-Roth said in a
prepared statement. 'I will continue to serve until a mutually agreeable
departure date is worked out with the administration.'
His exit will create a second vacancy in the five-member agency. The first
occurred when Democratic chairman William Kennard resigned Jan. 19 and was
replaced by incumbent Republican commissioner Michael Powell.
President Bush could possibly replace Democratic commissioner Susan Ness, who
received a recess appointment from President Clinton in December. An FCC source
said Ness can remain in office until Congress adjourns in the fall, while others
said Bush can replace her at any time. A source close to Ness said she would
step down if Bush decides to name a replacement.
Furchtgott-Roth, a 44-year-old soft-spoken economist and father of six
children, joined the FCC from a staff position with the House Commerce
Committee. When he started at the commission, he garnered a lot of press
attention after revealing that his household did not own a television set.
'Harold Furchtgott-Roth is going to be greatly missed at the FCC,' House
Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) said in a prepared
statement. 'His quiet dignity and professionalism were only overshadowed by his
complete knowledge of telecommunications issues.'
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