Gigi Sohn has weighed in on the political forces that prevented her from taking a seat on the FCC after her nomination by President Joe Biden and her decades of experience in communications, primarily as a public advocate and briefly as a top FCC adviser. Those forces included dark money groups, she said, with an assist from some inaccurate reporting in the media that she was unable to correct.
Gigi Sohn, who withdrew her nomination to the FCC in March, has been named executive director of the American Association for Public Broadband, a nonprofit formed by state and local broadband officials with the mission of advocating for municipal broadband.
Its official. On Sunday night, the White House sent out a note that it had informed the Senate it has withdrawn the nomination of Gigi Sohn to fill the vacant chair on the FCC, which has been at a 2-2 political tie for more than two years since Joe Biden became president, which usually would mean a Democratic majority.
The Biden administration appears to be in no hurry to withdraw the nomination of Gigi Sohn, its first choice for the third Democratic seat on the five-member FCC, or perhaps it was caught somewhat off guard by the need to find a new candidate if it wants to start pursuing a non-bipartisan agenda, one that prominently includes the restoration of network-neutrality rules.
For over a year, Gigi Sohn stayed relatively silent as she faced a barrage of attacks over her
nomination to the FCC, which had languished in the Senate since President Biden tapped her in October 2021. But her plans began to shift, she said, after speaking with the White House and a top Senate Democrat in the days before she would eventually announce her withdrawal. Now, in her first public interview since being nominated, Sohn is speaking out against what she called a “concerted, coordinated campaign” to block her nomination and hobble telecommunications regulators.
Gigi Sohn, President Biden’s nominee to the FCC, withdrew her name Tuesday after two years of partisan gridlock delayed her confirmation. In a statement, Sohn said she asked Biden to withdraw her nomination after discussions with her family and “careful consideration.” She said the “unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks” on her character and career from cable and media lobbyists “have taken an enormous toll on me and my family.”
President Biden’s nominee for an open seat on the FCC, Gigi Sohn, appears stalled in committee and is in danger of failing to reach the full Senate floor for a vote, according to Democratic Senate officials. If her nomination falters, the FCC will remain deadlocked with two Republican and two Democratic commissioners — hindering the Biden administration’s effort to implement key parts of the president’s agenda.
FCC nominee Gigi Sohn said she thinks the agency should investigate DirecTV’s deplatforming of right-leaning cable news channels Newsmax and One America News Network. That came in a back-and-forth with Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) Tuesday during Sohn’s third confirmation hearing before that committee.
The Senate Commerce Committee today once again vetted public interest lawyer Gigi Sohn for the long-vacant third Democratic seat on the five-member FCC, and Republicans had their knives out. With a Senate majority, though, the Democrats hold the fate of Sohn in their own hands.
President Joe Biden’s pick for a key fifth seat on the FCC will tell lawmakers that industry opponents have sought to scuttle her nomination to prevent more lower-priced broadband service. Gigi Sohn, who was nominated in October 2021, will have her third hearing for the job before the Senate Commerce Committee today.
Citing a smear campaign to continue to prevent Gigi Sohn from being seated as the fifth FCC commissioner, former Fox and ABC/Disney executive Preston Padden has written the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee to call out those tactics and advocate for Sohn, with whom he is not aligned politically.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is urging Congress to move the nomination of Gigi Sohn to be the fifth member of the FCC. “It is outrageous that the FCC has gone without a full slate of commissioners while the nomination of the supremely qualified and prepared nominee, Gigi Sohn, languishes amidst lies and homophobia,“ Markey said. He is primarily addressing fellow Democrats since they control the gavel in committees and have the votes to discharge the nomination from the committee and approve her to the commission if they are all on board.
It is beginning to look like the 2-2 deadlock that has marked the FCC for the past two years is not about to come to an end in the near-term, even though Democrats now have an extra vote in the Senate to confirm Gigi Sohn. As the Senate returns from a two-week recess, there is a growing expectation that Sohn’s nomination will need to go through a full confirmation process once again — including a third hearing in front of the Senate Commerce Committee.
The opponents of Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the FCC are bringing out their familiar artillery in their effort to keep her off the agency, where she would be the third Democrat, giving the Biden administration the majority it would need to tackle partisan issues, notably network neutrality rules. Following President Joe Biden’s renomination of Sohn last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), launched an attack on her character and her politics, while Fox News Channel also ran a story taking aim.
A coalition of Hispanic groups is renewing calls for President Biden to “name a person of Latino descent” to the FCC. The campaign comes as the White House forges ahead with the long-stalled nomination of Gigi Sohn. Over a dozen civil rights and advocacy groups wrote in a letter to Biden that tapping a Hispanic nominee for the agency would represent “a powerful sign of your commitment to our community.”
President Joe Biden, who at first did not succeed in getting his FCC nominee confirmed, or even voted on the the full Senate, is try, trying again, signaling he is not giving up on Gigi Sohn. Sohn has become a contentious pick, leaving the FCC at a 2-2 political tie for longer than at any other time. The president on Jan. 3 again submitted the nomination of Sohn to be the fifth commissioner, and third Democrat, on the FCC. She has been nominated to a five-year term, but since it is retroactive to the departure of the commissioner she is replacing — Chairman Ajit Pai, whose term expired in July 2021 — it will be, at most, a three-year-plus term.
The key Democrat’s confirmation remains stuck in committee.
Prospects for Gigi Sohn — a controversial nominee to join the FCC who is a major proponent of restoring so-called “net neutrality” rules that used to govern the internet — may hinge on the outcome of the Georgia Senate runoff. A Rafael Warnock win would give Democrats a 51-to-49 Senate majority. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is the only Democrat who still doesn’t support nominee Gigi Sohn and the extra vote would mean the Republicans cannot stop the nomination as she would get through in a tie, sources said.
Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, who heads the panel that overseas the FCC, said the nomination of Democrat Gigi Sohn to fill the key fifth seat on the commission faced an issue of timing when asked if the Senate would take up the nomination before the end of December. The FCC has been divided 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans since January 2021. “It’s all about the queue of are we doing legislation or are we doing nom(inations) and my sense is right now we’re trying to get the omnibus done,” Cantwell said.
Various unions, communications and otherwise, are pushing Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to take whatever action necessary to use the lame-duck session of Congress to advance to a vote on the long-stalled nomination of Gigi Sohn for the vacant FCC seat.
Gigi Sohn may soon take a seat as FCC commissioner thanks to Democrats’ narrow victories in US midterm Senate races around the country, according to the financial analysts at New Street Research. If Sohn’s nomination is approved by the U.S. Senate in the coming months, Democrats would have a majority of seats at the five-member commission. That could pave the way for the FCC to reclassify Internet service providers (ISPs) as Title II carriers, a precursor to reinstating the net neutrality guidelines introduced under Democratic President Barack Obama but rejected under Republican President Donald Trump.
One year ago today, President Biden nominated Gigi Sohn to the empty spot on the FCC. Sohn, a longtime consumer advocate who worked for the Obama-era FCC, would have given Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel the tiebreaking vote needed to reverse Trump-era deregulation of the broadband industry, restore net neutrality rules, and pursue other rulemakings opposed by the commission’s Republicans. But Sohn is still waiting for the Senate to vote on her nomination. With Senate elections happening in two weeks, it’s not clear that a vote on Sohn will ever happen.
Supporters of Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the FCC have gotten together on a letter to congressional leaders, clearly hoping that the weight of their collective call for action can move a needle that has been stuck for well over a year. In a letter dated Oct. 14, almost 250 groups, mostly public interest groups but also including Dish, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, INCOMPAS and the Rural Wireless Association, told Senate leaders from both parties that she should get a floor vote before Congress adjourns.
The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), which represents 800 FCC employees, has come out in support of the nomination of Gigi Sohn for the long-vacant fifth seat — and third Democrat — on the commission. In a letter to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, which failed to successfully report Sohn’s nomination to the full Senate for a vote, NTEU said it was concerned about the continued vacancy and that Sohn was a highly qualified nominee whose nomination should be moved out of committee for a floor vote.
James Erwin: “With their razor-thin Senate majority at risk, Democrats want to notch a few last-minute accomplishments before the November midterms. They could mount a last-minute push to confirm the long-stalled nomination of Gigi Sohn to the FCC and try to claim that the current 2-2 partisan split produces gridlock and prevents the agency from doing its job. Such a claim would be utterly disingenuous; the FCC has operated with fewer than five commissioners for more than 25 percent of its existence. Nevertheless, it has had no trouble fulfilling its mission, and any fair examination of the FCC’s record since President Biden’s inauguration would demonstrate that the agency is perfectly capable of doing its job with four commissioners.”
Supporters of FCC nominee Gigi Sohn are dismissing a call over the weekend by advocacy group ALLvanza for President Joe Biden to drop Sohn’s nomination in favor of a Hispanic candidate.
The Biden administration’s controversial choice of Gigi Sohn to fill an open seat on the FCC has been in Senate confirmation limbo for months.In recent weeks, at the urging of progressive advocates of Sohn, the White House has been discussing possibly pushing the vote until after the midterms, which might give the Dems cover to vote for her confirmation in a lame duck session. But amid that discussion, the White House is also reaching out to other candidates as part of an early-stage vetting process if the administration decides to pull the plug on Sohn, according to one person with direct knowledge of the matter.
Last month, the Biden administration passed a regrettable milestone: 500 days without seating a fully functional FCC. The president’s nominee to fill the fifth and final FCC commissioner’s spot, longtime public-interest advocate and former FCC adviser Gigi Sohn, has been in limbo awaiting Senate confirmation — leaving the agency without the vote it needs to break partisan deadlocks. The power to return the FCC to full strength rests with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, but so far he’s refused to use it.
It’s not looking good for Gigi Sohn’s nomination to fill the third Democratic seat on the FCC, one that’s extremely long-vacant — for well over a year — and would give the Biden FCC the majority it needs to restore network-neutrality rules or do other things Republicans won’t sign off on. The legislative days are dwindling down to a precious few. There are only about four weeks left on the Senate legislative calendar before the August recess, after which lawmakers will be focused on getting themselves re-elected in the midterms.
FCC nominee Gigi Sohn has faced a mix of poor timing, bad luck and opposition from some lawmakers, making her confirmation at once more urgent but also less likely with each passing day.
Congress hasn’t budged on President Biden’s pick for a key tie-breaking FCC seat as the clock ticks down on the chance for a vote. Why it matters: Without confirmation of Biden’s nominee, Gigi Sohn, the communications regulator will remain deadlocked — hobbling efforts to enact the administration’s agenda of expanding broadband access and promoting digital equity. If Sohn, a lawyer and co-founder of the tech and telecom advocacy group Public Knowledge, doesn’t win a vote before summer recess, Democrats could lose their chance to fill the seat should Republicans take control of Congress in November.
News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal editorial board this week continued its push to defeat the nomination of Gigi Sohn for the fifth Democratic seat on the FCC. The editorial board added the Fraternal Order of Police union’s opposition — which dates from March — to Sohn’ as the latest weapon in an ongoing campaign. The paper said the union stand appears to have put a trio of Democratic votes in doubt: Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Kelly (Ariz.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada). If so, that would definitely be a blow to Sohn’s chances.
The 2-2 Democrat-Republican deadlock at the agency means that many media issues are left hanging, including some important to the Biden administration and the TV industry, particularly net neutrality and media ownership.
It appears that two can play at the game of six-figure ad campaigns targeted at FCC nominees — in this case, the nomination of Gigi Sohn to fill the vacant Democratic (majority) seat. A week after a group called The One Country Project (OCP) said it had launched a six-figure ad campaign meant to keep Sohn off the commission, the Communications Workers of America Monday (April 25) said it had launched a six-figure campaign to make sure she did get the seat.
Some former Democratic members of Congress have joined what is increasingly a concerted effort to block the nomination of Gigi Sohn, President Joe Biden‘s nominee to the open Democratic seat on the FCC. A group called The One Country Project said it has launched a six-figure ad campaign meant to “ensure that the FCC prioritizes rural broadband expansion and communities,” but in the next sentence defines the campaign as “aimed at raising awareness that the Biden administration’s [FCC] nominee, Gigi Sohn, is the wrong choice for the FCC and rural America.”
The FCC should conclude its long-overdue, congressionally mandated quadrennial review of whether its media ownership regulations are necessary in the public interest, NAB CEO Curtis LeGeyt told FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel earlier this month, according to an FCC filing. A politically tied FCC is unlikely to approve reregulation of broadcasters and so far there has been no movement on a Senate confirmation vote on Gigi Sohn, the Democratic nominee who would break that tie.
Fans in the association sphere called on the Senate to confirm Democratic nominee Gigi Sohn to fill the fifth seat on the FCC, which has been vacant for well over a year. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the associations acknowledged the Senate had a lot on its plate with “pressing national issues.” Nonetheless, they urged senators to end debate over Sohn’s nomination — a discharge vote is akin to a cloture vote, allowing for a final vote on a bill or nomination.
House Democrats made a point of noting the absence of a fifth FCC commissioner — specifically Democratic nominee Gigi Sohn — at the first FCC oversight hearing in the current Congress on Thursday. In his opening statement, Communications Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) said he hoped the Senate would soon confirm Sohn to that seat.
Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee have so far blocked the nominations of Georgetown University law professor Alvaro Bedoya to the FTC and consumer advocate Gigi Sohn to the FCC, largely on grounds that they are too partisan. That left both commissions deadlocked with a 2-2 split between Democrats and Republicans, denying agency leaders the majorities they needed to advance the Biden administration’s priorities. In response, Senate Democratic leaders are preparing to use a parliamentary maneuver known as a discharge petition to allow a floor vote on both nominees, according to people familiar with the matter.