Gigi Sohn Nomination Endorsed By Ex-FCC Homeland Security Chiefs

FCC nominee Gigi Sohn at Senate confirmation hearing
FCC nominee Gigi Sohn (Image credit: C-SPAN)

Three former chiefs of the Federal Communications Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau — including two former top military officers — have expressed their strong endorsement of Gigi Sohn as the regulator‘s fifth commissioner.

Confirmation of Sohn, a Democrat, would tip the balance of power on an FCC that‘s currently politically tied at 2-2. Sohn was a top adviser to Tom Wheeler, FCC chair during the second term of President Barack Obama.

Those ringing endorsements came in letters this week to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, copies of which were provided to Multichannel News. The committee has held a hearing on Sohn's nomination but has yet to vote on it.

Sending a joint letter were retired Rear Admirals Jamie Barnett and David Turetsky, with retired Rear Adm. David Simpson sending a separate letter.

Also: Preston Padden Backs Sohn for FCC Seat

Sohn has received major pushback from Republicans over some tweets about Fox News Channel and her progressive stands on some issues, including as head of Public Knowledge, but she also has backers in that party who concede elections have consequences and respect her has a principled advocate for positions they may not agree with.

Simpson said he had worked closely with Sohn for three years and called her a patriot, a big backer of law enforcement and an advocate for public safety. “She would be an outstanding commissioner and bring useful consumer and community focused perspective to the FCC,” he said, adding that Sohn had his “strongest possible endorsement.”

In their joint letter, Barnett and Turetsky said, “Based on our knowledge and experience with the public safety communications role of the FCC, our knowledge of FCC commissioner nominee Gigi Sohn and our work and dedication to make the public safer, we enthusiastically recommend that you confirm Gigi Sohn to serve as an FCC commissioner.”

They urged the legislators — Commerce chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) — to confirm Sohn ASAP. Actually, they would simply be favorably reporting the nomination to the full Senate, whose affirmative vote would be confirmation, but their meaning was clear. 

“She is someone we believe will be a strong, effective, and knowledgeable advocate for the public’s safety as an FCC commissioner,” Barrett and Turetsky concluded.

FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel is waiting on that fifth commissioner to be able to tackle potential broadcast and internet service provider re-regulation that the two Republican members are unlikely to support. ■

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.