House E&C Staff Director Ray Baum Dies

Ray Baum, staff director of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, died Friday, Feb. 9, after a long battle with cancer, according to E&C chair and longtime friend and colleague Greg Walden (R-Ore.).

Baum was also former VP of government relations for the National Association of Broadcasters.

“Ray dedicated his life to public service, first as an elected official and then as an advisor on Capitol Hill," said Walden. "Our committee, the people of Oregon, and our country are better off because of Ray’s selfless service. Ray will be deeply missed, but he will not be forgotten. The Energy and Commerce Committee will strive to honor Ray's legacy of decency and kindness through our work and, more importantly, by following the example Ray set through the graciousness and honor he showed every day."

Baum served with Walden on the Oregon State Legislature, where Baum succeeded him as the state's House Majority Leader. Baum was also chair of the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

When Walden was named chair of the House Communications Subcommittee (then the Telecommunications Subcommittee), he brought Baum on as senior policy advisor.

Baum's survivors include his wife, Kristine.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Ray Baum.," said FCC chair Ajit Pai. "Ray had a distinguished career serving the people of Oregon and the United States in a wide variety of positions, ranging from Majority Leader of the Oregon House of Representatives to the Chairman of the Oregon Public Utility Commission to Staff Director for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce. I had the pleasure to work with him over the past few years and was impressed by his keen intellect, fundamental kindness and passion for advancing the public interest. He was a good man, and I will miss him. My condolences go out to Ray’s family at this difficult time.”

FCC commissioner Michael O'Rielly said: “I am incredibly sad to learn of the passing of House Energy & Commerce Chief of Staff, Ray Baum, who I worked with on Capitol Hill and provided me keen advice during my early Commission days. More than a colleague, Ray was a wonderful individual with an endearing smile. While communications policy – especially the intricacies of universal service – was a unique passion, his true love remained his extended family, and I pray that God provides peace to them during these difficult days.”

Baum's name was one of those floated as a possible successor to FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell back in 2013, a seat that ulimately went to O'Rielly.

USTelecom president Jonathan Spalter, said: “Ray Baum’s lifelong dedication to public service – in Washington, D.C., and in Oregon – truly has made a lasting difference for all Americans. Throughout his life, he has worked so hard and with such conviction to make the lives of our fellow citizens better. The USTelecom community extends our condolences to Ray’s family, his friends, and to all who had the opportunity to work with this extraordinary American. May Ray’s memory be a blessing for us all.”

INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering said: “We are deeply saddened by the news that Ray Baum has passed away, and wish to extend our deepest sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues. Ray’s love for policy and substance, combined with his uncanny ability to bring people together, helped build a nation of networks that connect our world to the future. He created a legacy of important accomplishments, and will always be remembered for his honesty and friendship that helped people reach shared goals.”

"All of us at NAB mourn the passing of Ray Baum," said National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith. "In the time he spent working at NAB, he was to everyone a daily delight. We will miss his everyday greeting — 'it’s nice to have you out today!' His zest for life, his creative legislative mind, his infectious humor, his love for others, and his determined work ethic as he battled cancer, these were an inspiration to all.”

“I have known Ray Baum for as long as I have memory. What I observed about him unfailingly was his constant devotion to Kristine and his children, the determined discharge of his duty to God and Country, his Good Samaritan heart for neighbor and humankind. It is easy to envy another for what he has. I envy Ray for the man he became. God bless you, my faithful friend."

“Ray Baum was a good man who left us too soon," said American Cable Association President Matthew Polka. "He was a dedicated public servant known for his candor, intelligence and goodwill. Moving on without Ray will be hard, but I hope his family and large extended family on Capitol Hill and in Oregon will take comfort in the knowledge that Ray’s many friends and acquaintances will cherish this honorable man’s memory forever.”

“WISPA mourns the passing of Ray Baum, the longtime senior policy adviser to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Greg Walden,"said Chuck Hogg, chairman of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association. "Ray’s good humor, willingness to listen, and commitment to sound public policy set a shining example of outstanding public service.”

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.