Rep. Cummings Accuses FCC Republicans of Obstructing Investigation

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has accused the FCC's Republican commissioners of obstructing a House Oversight Committee investigation.

The investigation was launched by Republicans into the FCC's rulemaking process for the 2015 Open Internet order. Republicans cited reports about the President's influence on reclassifying ISPs under Title II.

Democrats are more focused on how Republicans organized their opposition to the proposal.

“Although Democratic Members of the Commission have cooperated fully with our request, neither of you has produced a single responsive document to date, and even more concerning, your staff informed the Oversight Committee that you had not even begun to collect them,” cummings wrote in a letter to Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly. Cummings is ranking member of the committee. “Your refusal to cooperate with the Committee’s request is unacceptable, it obstructs our investigation, and it prevents the Committee from having a complete or accurate understanding of the circumstances surrounding this rulemaking.”

Cummings said that the FCC's Office of General Counsel had produced documents from Democratic Commissioners, but that Republicans were not cooperating.

Cummings quoted from a letter from the General Counsel's office: “Notwithstanding our efforts to execute your Committee’s instructions in a consistent manner throughout the agency, senior staff in the Office of Commissioner Ajit Pai recently informed me that Commissioner Pai will not permit OGC to collect, review and produce responsive documents that are in his custody or in the custody of his staff.”

Cummings said O'Rielly had also not provided "any documents whatsoever in response to a request from the Oversight Committee more than a year ago."

Pai's office had no comment at press time. A spokesperson for O'Rielly was not immediately available for comment at press time late Wednesday (Sept. 14).

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.