McDowell Is Likely Bush FCC Pick

Robert McDowell, senior VP and general counsel of telecom association Comptel, is said to be the Bush administration's likely pick for the remaining empty seat on the FCC, according to a well-connected Republican source.

Comptel is headed by Earl Comstock, himself a former leading contender for the FCC chairmanship and a pick of Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who heads the powerful Senate Commerce Committee and who also suggested McDowell's name to the White House.

Comptel was formed in 1981 to promote competition to AT&T and grew to include wireless companies and ISPs.

McDowell is described as a good lawyer with strong Republican connections.

Like FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, he worked for the Bush administration in Florida during the recount and was also on the advance team for the 2004 election.

McDowell would fill the seat vacated by Republican Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy and give the Republican Martin the majority he has lacked since he took over the center seat last March.

Before joining Comptel in 1999, McDowell was executive VP and general counsel of America's Carriers Telecommunications Association, which merged into Comptel.

McDowell was also with the telecommunications law firms of Helein & Associates in Washington and Arter & Hadden in Cleveland.

He is a graduate of Duke--Martin is University of North Carolina, so there could be some basketball rivalries there--and got his law degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary (former Chairman Michael Powell was a graduate of William & Mary).

Word is the nomination is coming "soon." McDowell would not comment.

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.