Cellphone industry picks new lobby chief

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Former Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) Meredith Attwell Baker has landed the top job at CTIA-The Wireless Association, becoming one of the leading lobbyists for the booming cellphone industry.

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Baker will begin at the trade group on June 2, according to CTIA. She will be leaving Comcast soon, as the company works to win approval for a multibillion-dollar merger deal with Time Warner Cable, a source familiar with the situation said.

"The wireless industry has grown significantly over the past decade and now permeates every part of our lives from education, and health care to energy and business. CTIA should be in the center of discussions about how wireless is reshaping our economy, our society and our culture," Baker said in a release.

The job move is homecoming of sorts for Baker, who worked as CTIA’s director of congressional affairs from 1998 to 2000.

"I look forward to continuing CTIA’s long tradition of finding bipartisan solutions to ensure adequate spectrum availability and opportunities to unlock the next generation of investment and innovation," she added.

The group had been searching for a new president and chief executive after Steve Largent, a former GOP congressman and Hall of Fame football player, announced in October that he would be stepping down.

“I plan to bring new ideas and new initiatives to the association that will take it from good to great. We will recruit and keep the best and brightest experts in spectrum and wireless communications,” Baker said.

The job with CTIA had been seen as one of the most desirable openings on K Street, given the growth of the wireless industry.

“They’ve got tons of money to throw around Washington,” a communications industry executive told The Hill last year. “It’s a big job.”

Comcast spent about $18.8 million lobbying the federal government in 2013, while CTIA spent more than $11.5 million on advocacy last year.

In a statement, Largent wished Baker luck and said, "I know she’ll be a great success.”

CTIA paid Largent a nearly $1.1 million base salary in 2012, according to the most recent public filings. Tacking on deferred compensation and bonuses puts the number closer to $1.9 million.

Before joining Comcast in 2011, Baker served as a commissioner at the FCC for almost three years, in addition to serving other senior roles at the regulatory body, including an appointment from then-President George W. Bush as the deputy assistant secretary of the Commerce Department in 2007.

Dan Mead, the chairman of CTIA and chief executive of Verizon Wireless, called her a "perfect fit" to lead the organization.

"She is also widely respected on both sides of the political aisle,” he added. “She is a proven leader with boundless energy and fresh ideas that can take our industry to the next level with both consumers and government officials, in the U.S. and around the world."

 

—Updated at 11:29 a.m. 

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