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Pai: FCC Enforcement Has 'Gone Off Rails'

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai takes aim at the FCC's Enforcement Bureau in his prepared statement for a Nov. 17 House Communications Subcommittee FCC oversight hearing.

According to his testimony, he said the Chairman of the parent Energy & Commerce Committee, Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and vice chair of the subcommittee, Bob Latta (R-Ohio), were right in to call for an investigation into how the Enforcement Bureau was being run.

"To be blunt, the FCC’s enforcement process has gone off the rails.  Instead of dispensing justice by applying the law to the facts, the Commission has focused on issuing headline-grabbing fines, regardless of the legality of its actions."

Those headlines include a $100 million fine against AT&T and a $1.4 million fine against Sprint and others.

He pointed out that under the previous two FCC chairs--Mignon Clyburn and Julius Genachowski--he had dissented from only one Enforcement Bureau action compared to 10 in the past 13 months under Wheeler.

He said the fine amounts seem to be "plucked from thin air...Congress never intended the FCC to assert that a company has violated never-adopted rules, to ignore facts that get in the way of good press, or to calculate potential forfeitures so implausibly large that any rough justice penalty will do."