Sen. Joe Manchin Comes Out Against Embattled Biden Nominee Gigi Sohn

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin will oppose Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the Federal Communications Commission, he announced Tuesday.

“The FCC must remain above the toxic partisanship that Americans are sick and tired of, and Ms. Sohn has clearly shown she is not the person to do that. For those reasons, I cannot support her nomination to the FCC, and I urge the Biden Administration to put forth a nominee who can bring us together, not drive us apart,” Manchin said in a statement.

President Joe Biden first nominated Sohn, a former FCC staff attorney, to sit on the commission in the 117th Congress. However, the Senate Commerce Committee deadlocked on her nomination, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York did not attempt to confirm her on the full floor. Biden renominated Sohn in January.

Republicans have expressed concern with Sohn’s potential conflicts of interest due to her time at a streaming service, as well as her partisan advocacy and commentary. Sohn worked as the director of Locast, a streaming platform that transmitted local news broadcasts over the internet. A federal judge ruled in September 2021 that the company was violating copyright laws, and it was subsequently shut down. Sohn later pledged to recuse herself from matters involving television broadcasting and retransmission rights.

Those concerns “lead to questions about whether she can adequately serve as FCC Commissioner if walled off from parts of the agency’s work,” Manchin said.

Other members objected to Sohn’s partisan advocacy and statements. She founded a tech policy think tank that received funding from billionaires Pierre Omidyar and George Soros. Sohn also tweeted racially-charged attacks against former President Donald Trump and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. (RELATED: Biden’s Tech Agenda In Jeopardy Over Opposition To ‘Partisan’ Nominees)

“Ms. Sohn spent many years as a public interest advocate, which is reflected in her continued ties with partisan activist groups and unfortunate statements online, and has a clear track record of working with far-left, divisive activist organizations,” Manchin added.

Several Biden confirmations have been put on hold due to the health-related absences of Democratic Sens. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and Dianne Feinstein of California.