Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai received the National Rifle Association's (NRA) “Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award” at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.
The NRA-sponsored award was given to Pai in recognition of months of heavy criticism over his successful push to repeal the agency’s net neutrality rules. Pai led the push to repeal the rules, which were overwhelmingly supported by the public, in December.
"Ajit Pai is the most courageous, heroic person that I know,” said Dan Schneider, the executive director of the American Conservative Union, while introducing the FCC chairman.
“He has received countless death threats. His property has been invaded by the George Soros crowd. He has a family, and his family has been abused in different ways. Chairman Pai, thank you for everything you’ve done."
Pai’s award is a handmade Kentucky long gun, which will be housed in the NRA’s museum in Fairfax, Va.
Previous winners have included Vice President Pence and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.
During a panel discussion at the conservative confab, Pai said that he endured the criticism because he was determined to "make a fundamental change in the way the agency operates."
"Some people urged me to go for sacrifice bunts and singles and nibble around the edges — make some minor changes," Pai said. "But I don’t play small ball."
Last month, Pai was forced to cancel an appearance at the popular Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas after reportedly receiving death threats. And in December, the FCC's vote to repeal net neutrality was abruptly interrupted when law enforcement evacuated the agency hearing room after receiving a bomb threat.
A spokesman said that Pai was surprised and honored by the award. He was scheduled to give a speech at Friday's conference, but it appeared that it was scrapped in favor of the award presentation.
Updated: 2:40 p.m.