Biden’s picks for the FCC and FTC are accused of being too political after old tweets resurface
Republicans are using the old tweets of two Biden nominees to thwart the president’s technology and telecom agenda.
sen. Ted Cruz and other Republicans have delved into the backgrounds — and Twitter feeds — of two nominees slated to serve on the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.
And they are pushing back against FCC candidate Gigi Sohn, who Fox News called “dangerous to our democracy,” and FTC voter Alvaro Bedoya, who said immigration and customs enforcement is an “out of control domestic oversight agency.”
The setback comes as Democrats try to regain the majority vote of the two agencies, which decide net neutrality, competition and data privacy.
Republicans have previously successfully used tweets against Biden’s nominees. In March, they scuttled Neera Tanden’s appointment to head the Office of Management and Budget over her old tweets.
Democrats could ram the nominations through, but in the evenly split 50-50 Senate, they would need every member of their party on board and Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the casting vote.
Republicans are pushing old tweets back on old tweets FCC nominee Gigi Sohn, who called Fox News “dangerous to our democracy,” and FTC elect Alvaro Bedoya, who said immigration and customs enforcement is an “out of control domestic oversight agency.”
The Senate Commerce Committee was deadlocked over Bedoya’s nomination last week, with multiple Republicans saying: Politics they will hold Sohn as she goes to the Senate floor for a confirmation vote.
Many conservatives, including Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, have taken advantage of some of Sohn’s previous tweets to claim she would use her position at the FCC to suppress conservative voices.
In a tweet last year, Sohn wrote: “Despite all my concerns about #Facebook, I believe Fox News has had the most negative impact on our democracy. It’s state-sponsored propaganda, with little or no opposing views. Where’s the hearing on that?’
The Wall Street Journal, also owned by Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, clung to that tweet to write an op-ed against her nomination.
Cruz unveiled multiple poster boards of Sohn’s tweets during her confirmation hearing last week and suggested showing her appetite for conservative censorship.
“You have multiple tweets that go very directly after Fox News,” the Texas Republican and frequent Fox News guest told her.
She defended herself, saying that “My opinion as a public interest advocate will not affect how I behave as a policymaker if I am confirmed.”
She commented on her tweets: “I understand they’re a concern for some, and anyone who knows me knows I’m pretty straightforward. But they were created in my role as a public interest advocate. … Maybe the tone was a bit sharper, maybe I should have dulled it a bit, but again, it was part of my job as a public good advocate.’
Sohn is a co-founder of the public advocacy group Public Knowledge and a former senior staff member at the FCC.
sen. Ted Cruz leads the charge against Biden’s nominees
The Senate Commerce Committee last week pushed forward the nomination of Jessica Rosenworcel to another term at the FCC.
Rosenworcel was appointed chairman of the bureau in October. But without Sohn filling fifth on the committee, the bureau will be deadlocked at 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans.
That would set aside some issues important to Democrats, such as reintroducing a new set of net neutrality rules.
At that same hearing last week, the Commerce panel stuck to 14-14 in advancing Bedoya’s nomination.
But under Senate rules, his nomination can go to the full Senate for a vote.
Cruz also dismissed Bedoya’s old tweets, saying, “I see the record of someone who has been a left-wing activist, a provocateur, a bomber and an extremist.
Bedoya apologized and apologized for some previous social media posts.
“If confirmed, I am committed to serve as an unbiased and impartial commissioner,” he told senators during his hearing.
Bedoya, a professor in the Georgetown University Law Center, is also a former chief counsel to the United States Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and Law.
He calls privacy “a civil right” and was skeptical of facial recognition software, which he says often confuses the faces of African Americans and women.
The FTC is enforcing antitrust law and prosecuting allegations of misleading advertising. And it’s about pharmaceuticals – prescription drug prices have become a major concern.
The bureau currently consists of chairperson Lina Khan, a Democrat, a second Democrat and two Republicans. The FTC cannot take action in a tie vote.