House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa is increasing pressure on the Federal Communications Commission to reveal just how involved the White House was in drafting new rules for government regulation of Internet service providers, an effort Issa himself began more than a year ago.
In what is now the third letter sent to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Issa, California Republican, demanded Thursday that the agency turn over information regarding communication between the agency and the Obama administration, including notes on meetings and emails concerning proposed “net neutrality” rules unveiled last year. Issa wants to know if the FCC — an independent agency — colluded with the White House to draft the new rules on Internet distribution.
Issa cited the number of times FCC officials met with White House advisers just days before major policy proposals were made public last year. From January 2009 to November 2010, Genachowski visited the White House 81 times, and FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus visited about 60 times, according to the letter.
The committee is requesting records of all communications between FCC officials and White House staff, with a list of the topics discussed during each meeting and all emails between the FCC and the White House related to net neutrality, including letters from consultants working on the issue.
Issa requested information on the relationship between the White House and the FCC first in November 2009 and again in December of last year. The FCC responded promptly, saying that the law “does not prohibit communications between commissioners and commission and staff and members of the administration.”
But Issa wants details.
“In the fourteen months since my initial request, the FCC has done little to demonstrate its independence from the White House,” Issa wrote, adding that previous attempts to answer his requests were “incomplete.”
An FCC spokesman told The Daily Caller that their official comment to Issa’s request would come in the form of a letter by April 5, the deadline stated in the letter.
President Obama praised the FCC last year when it passed the FCC’s “Third Way” for Internet distribution regulation, a policy some Republican lawmakers have said they want to overturn through legislation.