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Klobuchar Grills Delrahim on Dish 'Push'

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Off the campaign trail but still very much on the media oversight beat, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) joined with other Democratic legislators to push Department of Justice antitrust chief Makan Delrahim for some answers. 

The questions had to do with reports that he improperly encouraged Dish to lobby on the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, which the FCC, and Justice, ultimately approved. 

They came in a letter to Delrahim from Klobuchar and a number of other senators, including another former presidential candidate Cory Booker (D-N.J.). 

The reports are not new. Dish chairman Charlie Ergen testified back in December that Delrahim had counseled him to ask a senator to talk with the FCC about approving the deal, which included spinning off some assets to Dish. 

“Law enforcement and regulatory decisions must be based on an objective assessment of the law and the facts, not on political pressure applied by one federal agency against another by way of private sector proxies,” they wrote in a letter Friday. “The Antitrust Division should focus on vigorous antitrust enforcement, not providing lobbying advice to private parties to influence the regulatory processes of other federal agencies.”  

They want a bunch of questions answered by April 6, including whether it was appropriate for Justice officials to encourage private parties to lobby, were there other instances where that has happened, and are there any current DOJ policies related to such actions. 

They also want all documents and communications related to urging a private party to communicate or lobby Congress with respect to the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. 

The "they" on the letter, in addition to Klobuchar, ranking member of the Antitrust Committee, were Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, as well as members of their respective subcommittee's Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Reps. Jayapal (D-Wash), Val Demings (D-Fla.), and Lucy McBath (D-Ga.). 

John Eggerton
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.