Wheeler Names Two Senior Staff Members

Tim Brennan becomes the FCC’s chief economist, while Clete Johnson is named chief counsel for cybersecurity in the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.

Today, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the appointment of Tim Brennan as chief economist for the agency, and Clete Johnson as chief counsel for cybersecurity in the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.

 “I am very pleased that Tim Brennan has agreed to join the Commission as our Chief Economist. His long and distinguished consideration of regulation, competition, and monopoly issues will enable him to contribute immediately and materially to our work,” Wheeler said. “Clete Johnson’s policy expertise and skills working with stakeholders in the public and private sectors will be a tremendous asset as the commission continues its efforts to promote network reliability and address future security threats through multistakeholder processes. They both bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the commission.”

Timothy Brennan, Chief Economist — Brennan, an expert on communications and media issues, is currently a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a senior fellow with Resources for the Future. His research has addressed topics in antitrust, regulatory economics, copyright, electricity markets, telecommunications and media policy, environmental economics, and methods and ethics in public policy.

Before joining the UMBC faculty in 1990, Brennan was an economist with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and taught in the telecommunications policy program at George Washington University. From 1996-97, he was a senior economist for the White House Council of Economic Advisers and in 2003-05 served as a staff consultant to the Federal Trade Commission. He has advised on competition law internationally for authorities in countries including Australia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Russia, the Slovak Republic, Sweden, and Uzbekistan. In 2013, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida.

He received a B.A. in mathematics in 1973 from the University of Maryland,  an M.A. in mathematics in 1975 and a Ph.D. in economics in 1978 from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Clete Johnson, Chief Counsel for Cybersecurity — Johnson will join the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, where he will report directly to the Bureau Chief, Rear Admiral (Ret.) David Simpson, and help implement the commission’s cybersecurity mission. This includes working with stakeholders to identify and address communications sector vulnerabilities, and increasing the security and resiliency of critical infrastructure within the communications sector by facilitating the development and implementation of cybersecurity best practices.


Johnson joins the FCC from the Senate Intelligence Committee where he worked on a number of initiatives within the committee’s cybersecurity portfolio and served as the committee’s lead staffer on financial intelligence issues. As the Committee’s designated counsel for former Intelligence Committee Chairman and present Commerce Committee Chairman Senator John D. Rockefeller IV. Johnson was the staff lead for Senator Rockefeller’s cybersecurity legislation and related stakeholder outreach. He served previously as Senator Rockefeller’s counsel for defense, foreign policy, and international trade.

Before coming to the Senate, Mr. Johnson practiced law at Patton Boggs LLP. He is a former Army officer, serving first as a platoon leader and maintenance shop officer in South Korea, and later as a General’s aide in Germany.

Johnson received his J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law. While on a Fulbright Fellowship, he earned an M.Sc. in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard University.

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