GAO Says FCC Tipped Off Favored Groups Before Votes
October 4, 2007 at 5:54 AM (PT)
The GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE says that the FCC is tipping off certain companies and trade groups to upcoming FCC votes, giving the favored groups a heads-up to get their lobbying efforts in order. The LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that the GAO is accusing the Commission of violating its rules to give some lobbyists an unfair advantage.
"It is critical that FCC maintain an environment in which all stakeholders have an equal opportunity to participate in the rulemaking process and that the process is perceived as fair and transparent," the GAO said in a report released WEDNESDAY. "Situations where some, but not all, stakeholders know what FCC is considering for an upcoming vote undermine the fairness and transparency of the process and constitute a violation of FCC's rules."
The report was the result of a review of FCC rulemaking procedures requested by Rep. ED MARKEY (D-MA). The report showed that the FCC generally follows its procedures but in four case studies from 2002 to 2006, the Commission was shown to breach the confidentiality of its pre-vote procedures. The GAO also said that several businesses and groups said they were tipped off to upcoming votes by FCC staff.
"When the corporate insiders and K Street crowd have the inside track on decisions critical to telecommunications, media, broadband or wireless policy, then the public and consumers are at an inherent disadvantage," said MARKEY. "I believe the FCC should take immediate steps to protect the integrity of its rulemaking process."