House Dems press FCC Republicans over CPAC appearance

House Dems press FCC Republicans over CPAC appearance
© Greg Nash

Two of the top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are questioning three Republican members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over their decision to attend last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse committee launches probe into live event ticket companies Democrats press Trump officials over drop in ObamaCare signups amid website problems Congress extends flood insurance program for 13th time since 2017 MORE (N.J.), the committee’s top Democrat, and Rep. Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleDemocrats demand FCC act over leak of phone location data Hillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference Reddit, Google to testify before House panel on tech's legal protections MORE (D-Pa.) sent a letter on Monday to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his two fellow GOP commissioners that included a list of questions about their CPAC attendance.

"Your willingness to attend and help promote a political rally raises serious concerns about your roles as leaders of an independent federal agency, and the potential of taxpayer dollars being spent towards political ends," the letter reads.

The two Democrats asked Pai and his colleagues — GOP commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr — if they had consulted agency ethics officials about attending a political event and whether they had used FCC resources to prepare for the conference.

During his appearance at CPAC, Pai was given a courage award sponsored by the National Rifle Association for his efforts to dismantle net neutrality despite withering criticism. He later declined the award, citing the advice of FCC ethics officials.

Spokespeople for the three commissioners were not immediately able to comment.

Pallone and Doyle, outspoken critics of Pai’s deregulatory record as chairman, accused the three commissioners of injecting partisanship into the FCC’s work.

"Despite the Congressional intent set out in the Commission's authorizing statute, Commissioners seem to be using their positions during this administration as a platform to promote and even raise funds towards a political agenda,” they wrote. “Indeed, some statements by Commissioners made during recent events have created deep partisan divide at the FCC."