FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Rips Enforcement Bureau Again In Speech To Communications Lawyers
December 7, 2015 at 5:23 AM (PT)
FCC Commissioner AJIT PAI, a leading critic of the Commission's own Enforcement Bureau and the entire enforcement process, reiterated his complaints in a speech to the PRACTICING LAW INSTITUTE/FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS BAR ASSOCIATION 33rd annual Institute on Telecommunications Policy & Regulation THURSDAY (12/3), repeating his comment to Congress that the process has "gone off the rails" and adding that "things have gone seriously awry" and that the Bureau "sure does seem to be in the policymaking business these days."
PAI asserted that "instead of applying the law to the facts, the Commission’s enforcement process has shifted to issuing headline-grabbing fines regardless of the law," noting that under the previous four chairs, "There was not a single party-line vote on a Notice of Apparent Liability or forfeiture order," but that there have been nine in the last 14 months.
Citing a whistleblower's report to him that indicated the Enforcement Bureau was instructed to scale back on investigating pirate radio operations, PAI said that " With visions of NEW YORK TIMES headlines dancing in its head, the FCC currently has little interest in doing bread-and-butter enforcement work." And he criticized the bureau for being "no longer accountable to FCC Commissioners. We have reached the point at which Commissioners themselves can’t oversee the enforcement process," saying that his JUNE 24th request for a list of open investigations has been ignored despite 13 follow-up requests.