FCC's Starks to be Sworn in as Newest Commissioner

WASHINGTON — The newest Federal Communications Commission member, Democrat Geoffrey Starks, will be sworn in today (Jan. 30) just in time to participate in his first public meeting.

He has also launched an FCC Twitter account and posted his first video talking about his excitement at getting started:


Due to the government shutdown, there were no votes at the meeting, only announcements — like the one ushering in Starks, in an abbreviated gathering to satisfy the statutory requirement that the FCC meet monthly.

Starks was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee last June to succeed Mignon Clyburn, but due to some unrelated holds, he was not confirmed by the full Senate until Jan. 2, as the old Congress wrapped up outstanding business.

"Throughout my career, I’ve focused on protecting the most vulnerable and holding wrongdoers accountable," said Starks at the meeting. "I’ll continue to pursue those goals in my new job. I also look forward to working with Congress, my fellow Commissioners and the FCC’s outstanding staff to advance the public interest. All communities have a right to be heard on communications policy, regardless of their resources. And for my part, I subscribe to the wisdom of Justice Ginsburg who said, “I'm a very strong believer in listening and learning from others.” I will always be listening and learning."

Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel has been pretty much a lone voice of pushback on the FCC's deregulatory agenda since Clyburn's exit last June. She made that point at the meeting as she welcomed Starks, pointing out they were "bookending" the dais.

Rosenworcel called the shutdown "unfortunate and reckless," pointing to a "torrent" of e-mails and a "jumble of delayed proceedings. But she also said she took hope from the uncommon skill and devotion of FCC staffers. Pai praised all the staffers who had worked, some without pay, and singled out those who had stayed around to make sure staffers got their checks as soon as possible.

Starks has been assistant bureau chief in the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, which is not a typical launching pad for a commission seat, like, say, a Hill communications counsel would be, though the most recent Republican addition, Brendan Carr, came directly from the FCC as well.

Starks has an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Yale. University He also founded a community bank. Like FCC chair Ajit Pai, he grew up in Kansas. His wife is Lauren Thompson Starks, a former Obama appointee. Starks is also a former staffer to then-Sen. Barack Obama and a former attorney with Williams & Connolly in Washington. His Obama-era government service includes serving under Attorney General Eric Holder at Justice as the lead on financial and healthcare fraud.

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.