Obama to Nominate Former Lobbyist Tom Wheeler for FCC Chair


President Obama is expected to nominate Tom Wheeler, a venture capitalist and longtime Obama supporter, as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday.

The next chairman will help steer the FCC on key issues ranging from broadband access, to net neutrality, to whether the FCC should auction off unused network airwaves to raise revenue—an idea Wheeler has previously said he supports

Wheeler’s critics say he is too much of an industry advocate, especially given the 12 years he spent heading up the CTIA, a telecommunications trade group whose membership includes nearly every major industry player. Mother Jones‘ David Corn reported on this when Wheeler’s name was first circulated back in March:

[Wheeler] is no consumer advocate, but he has this advantage: He has raised a lot of money as a campaign bundler for Obama. Wheeler is also a member in good standing with the Washington establishment; he sits on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and is a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center. During 2009, he led the Obama-Biden transition’s working group overseeing science, technology, space, and arts agencies.

“He’s beloved in the telecom industry,” a former Obama administration official says of Wheeler. An industry newsletter notes, “having spent his entire career representing businesses, running businesses and investing in businesses, Wheeler undoubtedly will have a light regulatory touch in all matters. And that’s not something you can say about most Democrats.”

But Wheeler may well avoid backlash. Earlier this month, a group of former administration officials from the tech and telecom world sent Obama a letter of support praising Wheeler as someone who has “applied his expertise to the challenges of a civil society.” And in Time, two industry analysts said Wheeler has picked up “helpful endorsements to cover his left flank.”

The nomination also dashes hopes that Obama would pick the first woman to serve as FCC chair; former Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ambassador Jessica Rosenworcel and Obama aide Karen Kornbluh were thought to be potential nominees. 

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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