FCC remains split after Sohn withdraws from nomination

FCC remains split after Sohn withdraws from nomination

Gigi Sohn.jpg

The US telecoms regulator is likely to be stuck in a two-two voting tie for months or years following the withdrawal of a Democratic-supporting candidate.

President Joe Biden nominated Gigi Sohn (pictured) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in October 2021, but withdrew this week after opposition from some fellow Democrats.

Sympathisers accused the political establishment in Washington DC of homophobia.

Sohn, an out lesbian who married her wife Lara Ballard more than 15 years ago, did not mention that aspect, but said: “When I accepted [Biden’s] nomination over 16 months ago, I could not have imagined that legions of cable and media industry lobbyists, their bought-and-paid-for surrogates, and dark money political groups with bottomless pockets would distort my over 30-year history as a consumer advocate into an absurd caricature of blatant lies.”

But she did say: “The unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks on my character and my career as an advocate for the public interest have taken an enormous toll on me and my family. Unfortunately, the American people are the real losers here.”

Sohn was on the FCC staff, working for then chairman Tom Wheeler, a decade ago, but resigned after Donald Trump won the 2016 election.

The Biden administration now has to find another nominee who will have to face political scrutiny. Traditionally three of the ever-political FCC’s five members come from the president’s party, with the other two from the other party.

But the FCC has been split two-two, and essentially unable to take difficult decisions, for years.

Sohn said on Twitter: “It has certainly been a trying 16 months, but I am so grateful to everyone who volunteered their time and energy to get me confirmed. We didn’t make it, but we put up a hell of a fight against tough odds.”

She added: “I’ll have much more to say in the coming days and weeks, but I want to thank everyone for their love and support here, in messages, emails and phone calls. I’m especially moved by the support of those who have disagreed with me on the left and the right.”

Karine Jean-Pierre, Biden’s press secretary, said: “She would have brought tremendous intellect and experience, which is why the president nominated her in the first place.”

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