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Incoming Ex-Lobbyist FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Selling $1 Million in Personal AT&T, Verizon Stock

Phillip Dampier May 17, 2013 AT&T, Consumer News, Editorial & Site News, Public Policy & Gov't, Verizon, Video 4 Comments
Phillip "I don't have $1 million in AT&T and Verizon stock" Dampier

Phillip “I don’t have $1 million in AT&T and Verizon stock” Dampier

Before Tom Wheeler, President Obama’s pick to head the Federal Communications Commission, can find his seat at the federal agency overseeing the nation’s telecommunications industry, he will need time to sever the extensive ties he maintains as an ex-lobbyist and investor in the companies he will soon oversee.

To avoid an even bigger appearance of a conflict of interest, Wheeler has agreed to dump at least $1 million in personal stock in AT&T and Verizon, as well as divest himself of holdings in 76 other media and tech companies including Time Warner, Comcast, Google, Sprint, Deutsche Telekom and News Corp.

Wheeler is also submitting his resignation from the board of Earthlink, an Internet Service Provider, and will also sell off his shares in that company. He will also have to step down from Core Capital, a venture capitalist investor firm with extensive holdings in the telecom industry.

In our view, Wheeler has shown he couldn’t be more of a telecom industry insider unless he also served on the board of AT&T. Wheeler’s extensive holdings depict someone who has maintained a direct financial interest in the industry for years, even after ending his leadership at the National Cable Television Association and leading the nation’s biggest wireless industry lobbying group, the CTIA.

These kinds of deep industry ties are a serious concern for the average consumer. As we’ve reported before, Tom Wheeler has said almost nothing on his blog about consumer interests, writing views from the perspective of an industry lobbyist and investor. Watching him disgorge well over a million dollars in direct investments in AT&T and Verizon — companies he’d oversee in his new role — does not ease our concern he remains a consummate insider. He is well-positioned to move back through the D.C. revolving door at the end of the Obama Administration to reinvest in the companies his tenure at the FCC could potentially make or break.

Wheeler’s appointment represents another broken promise from the Obama Administration:

“No political appointees in an Obama-Biden administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years. And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration.”

Not allowing Wheeler to oversee regulations or contracts with the companies who helped pay his salary and earn him a fortune from his investments would leave the new FCC chairman little to do beyond opening the mail. But of course, that campaign promise from the Obama-Biden campaign has long since been broken and forgotten by most.

Despite the clear conflicts of interest, President Obama remains fully behind his new FCC chairman pick.

“Tom knows this stuff inside and out,” Obama said.

No doubt.

[flv width=”640″ height=”380″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Real News Obama Nominates Cable Industry Lobbyist and Campaign Bundler New Head of FCC 5-12-13.mp4[/flv]

Former FCC commissioner Nicholas Johnson blasts the nomination of Tom Wheeler, an ex-industry lobbyist and insider, for the role of new chairman of the FCC. (From: TheRealNews) (16 minutes)

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Danny Lampley
Danny Lampley
7 years ago

“As we’ve reported before, Tom Wheeler has said almost nothing on his blog about consumer interests . . . .”

Expecting a bit much aren’t we? After all, he’s not likely to be consuming much of the things, and in the same way, as most of the rest of us consumers. You can hope but nothing changes.

Michael Elling (@Infostack)

Phil, first, suggest 3 people you think are more qualified and we’ll do an objective analysis. Second, are you aware of the personal expense Mr. Wheeler is undergoing to accept this position? Unloading all that stock and leaving so many boards and commitments is a massive disruption to anyone’s tax and financial planning as well as expected income streams. So when you look at the math, what additional direct gain would someone of his wealth, experience and range of relationships expect to achieve by this appointment? Thirdly, I find it disingenuous to highlight a former FCC Commissioner who belies his… Read more »

txpatriot
txpatriot
7 years ago

Here is yet another love letter from the NY Times to Susan Crawford:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/20/business/media/telecoms-big-players-hold-back-the-future.html

I can see why the Left loves her so much. But she never stood a chance to be the actual nominee so they need to get over it.

I wonder who the Republicans will nominate?

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