If the former NTIA chief is confirmed by the Senate, Meredith Attwell Baker will join Robert McDowell as the Republican voices on the commission along with Democrats Julius Genachowski, Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn.
President Barack Obama this afternoon announced his intent to nominate Meredith Attwell Baker for a Republican position on the five-person FCC.
Baker, 41, is the former head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the final Obama administration pick for the commission.
If confirmed, Baker would likely ally with current commissioner (and fellow Republican) Robert McDowell, who is expected to be confirmed for a second term.
Together, they should provide counterpoint to the three Democratic commissioners, who will be, if all goes as planned, Chairman Julius Genachowski, Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn.
Genachowski and McDowell have both had confirmation hearings on the Hill, but have not been voted on by the Senate yet.
Copps is the incumbent who has been acting chairman since Republican Kevin Martin resigned prior to Obama’s inauguration. Clyburn, the daughter of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, is still awaiting her confirmation hearing and in the meantime has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill.
In addition to her NTIA background, Baker also has the kind of connections that mean something in Washington. She hails from Houston and is the daughter-in-law of the Republican uber-politico James A. Baker III who, among other things, has served as White House chief of staff, Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State during the Reagan and Bush I years.
Her husband is James A. Baker IV (Jamie), the managing partner of the Washington office of Baker Botts. His primary focus is on international trade.
Although Baker earned a degree in journalism and Spanish in 1990, she wound up in the legislative affairs office of the State Department when her future father-in-law was the boss there.
She stayed at the State Department for two years before attending the University of Houston’s law school. While in school, Baker clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit in Houston.
She graduated in 1994 and joined DeLange & Hudspeth, a full-service Houston firm where she focused on corporate and bankruptcy law.
Baker returned to Washington in 1998 to work as director of congressional affairs for CTIA-The Wireless Association. Baker’s work as a Hill lobbyist involved such issues as making 911 a national number and preventing cell phone cloning.
Baker left CTIA in 2000 to become senior counsel at Covad Communications, which provides broadband voice and data communications. Her primary focus was passage of legislation to ensure that companies like Covad had access to the old Bell companies’ telephone lines.
She took time off from Covad to help the George W. Bush campaign on the 2000 presidential Florida recount in Miami — an effort led by James A. Baker III.
In 2002, she joined the lobbying firm of Williams Mullen Strategies, but left in 2004 for the NTIA, a division of the Commerce Department. There, she served as senior adviser to then Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce and NTIA head Michael Gallagher.
When John Kneuer became assistant secretary and head of NTIA in February 2007, Baker became his deputy and then took over as acting head of the organization when Kneur stepped down in November 2007.