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tv   Confirmation Hearing For FCC Nominee  CSPAN  February 9, 2022 7:57pm-10:18pm EST

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arbitration for complaints about workplace, sexual assault or sexual harassment bread that would allow the employees to sue in court on the senate is back in session live coverage here on cspan2. he ♪ ♪ a spanish or unfiltered view of government. funded by these television companies and more. including immediate calm. >> the world changed in an instant. viacom was ready, enter treatment tracking sort and we never slowed down trade schools and businesses went virtual and we powered a new reality. because that media calm we are built to keep you ahead. >> immediate calm support c-span as a public service along with these other television providers. giving you a front row seat to democracy. the senate commerce committee considered the nomination to be a commissioner of the federal communications commission. this was her second
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confirmation hearing after the committee failed to move forward with her nomination before the end of last year. questions were raised about her involvement and now defunct streaming service called low caste. if confirmed would give democrats three -- two majority at the scc. >> good morning. we are here today to consider the nomination to be commissioner of the federal communications commission. thank you for appearing again before the committee. and for your continued commitment to serve. many members over member has already appeared before the committee she hasn't graciously come back to answer questions and communicate with members. i think it shows the kind of transparent and open process that she would have as commissioner of the scc.
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it is a step most people would not do. but i think it speaks highly of her and the weight she believes in conducting herself. thank you very much for that. i want to also thank members for again addressing these issues. we all know their important issues there the commission is trying to be more aggressive about unwanted robocalls and text messaging. and the laws that companies should be complying with report data breaches earlier so consumers know in real time about the threat of the personal information. the pandemic has demonstrated how central broadband is the 21t century economy and the importance of the scc covid-19 telehealth program emergency broadband conductivity and the phone to keep connected to the
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doctors by the scc is critical to making sure the covid relief log gets to schools, library's and children's we've also been focused on getting our broadband backing updated. we really have no time to waste. no time to waste an information age of getting scc commissioner to help us on these issues of high quality internet services to rural communities, to get access to americans updating our broadband maps and the legislation that was passed in bipartisan infrastructure bill. we cannot have a more qualified person. thirty years of experience working on telecommunication policy including senior advisor to chairman wheeler at the scc. she is a prominent voice in the telecommunication arena leaving gent leading the charge on accessible and affordable broadband, consumer protection and competition. she has demonstrated track record of convening broad range of stakeholders in both
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sides of the aisle to achieve these goals. as a founder and leader of a nonprofit organization she had shepherd new area of telecommunication policy and the middle of every major debate that has transpired in the shaping of the regulatory framework on these important policy issues. the nomination i also believe is historic being the first openly gay commissioner on the scc another miles or the diversity that is so important, i think in talking about issues. nomination has been lauded by many individual groups on both sides of the aisle supported by more than 200 organizations, people across the political spectrum including advocates for the deaf libraries civil rights media workers rights consumer advocacy's companies and trade associations but her appeal is also bipartisan including members of conservative media organization and legislature in various states across united states. i know i have heard from below
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my state legislature not surprised if others here have heard from them as well. would be the first to tell you she does have opinions. and you have strong beliefs and have been fighting for them over the decades. many people who seek these jobs also have strong opinions. i have been a one has had to vote for many people i might have disagreed with their opinions or some statement they made will serving in a different capacity. will lend her decade-long expertise to important issues the scc needs a tackle in these issues. i am sure the process? we have been very accommodating on or give their colleagues on the other side of the aisle. our colleagues asked for more time we granted that. members asked for this hearing and i would just say to individuals i know many of you either did not meet or maybe in the qfr had questions that
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is why we are here today to answer those questions. i appreciate again her willingness. and on an additional not our outpouring of love at the last hearing to senator lujan i got a text from him yesterday. he said he very much looks forward to rejoining us and sends his love back to the committee. but that i will turn it back to the ranking member. >> thank you, senator cantwell it is nice to have a good report and we certainly wish him well and look forward to seeing him soon. thank you for holding this extremely important hearing. to consider further the nomination to be a commissioner of the federal communications commission. i want to express my appreciation to senator cantwell for working with me or agreeing to my request for this additional hearing. let me begin by stressing that although i disagree with the
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number of policy matters such as rate regulation. i do not intend to discuss those disagreements today. perhaps others will but i do not. i will also note this hearing is not about obstructing a nominee. many members on this side have reported many, many nominations out of this committee favorably. nominated by president biden including a nominee for the scc. it gives me no pleasure to say that my reason for being here today is to discuss outstanding questions about fitness and ability to serve as a commissioner. particularly in light of developments that occurred after our hearing on december 1 of 2021. some of the matters require further examination include service on the board of sports fans coalition new york inc. as well as a settlement agreement that this entity and
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its directors reached with several broadcasters regarding its illegal low caste of service. additionally a number of questions surround recently released voluntary work queues a letter which would bar her from participating in the scc retransmission consent and television copyright matters for at least three and possibly for years but expect my colleagues love additional matters they would like to discuss in today's hearing the settlement agreement between sports and coalition new york inc. and broadcasters is troubling for many reasons. broadcasters accused new york inc. of infringing on their copyrights in the operation of the low caste service. yet the parties settled this
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dispute with the coalition agreeing to pay just $700,000 of the $32 million in statutory damages they reportedly owed. i recognize the settlement agreements are calm and and litigation. but a settlement to the fraction of the damages stands out. mr. sohn has not been forthcoming on the settlement product when i asked about the source of the 32 million-dollar settlement she did not acknowledge that it had been reduced to $700,000. this raises questions as to what else she is not revealing about this litigation. what also makes the settlement troubling is ms. sohn and other parties signed the agreement one day after
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president biden announced his intent to nominate her to the scc. this of timing raises questions. did the parties know that in settling the claim for 2% of the amount of statutory damages, they were at sampling with the future scc commissioner? did the white house know of the forthcoming settlement when deciding the timing of ms. sohn nomination announcement? did any of these factors influence the decision to settle and the amount of the settlement? what are the ethical issues of parties accepting a 98% reduction accepting a 98% reduction and financial damages for being potentially subject to regulation by ms. sohn. this committee needs clarity on the settlement. we need to know if it's fully satisfied and whether the
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directors of sports fans coalition new york inc. including ms. sohn relate reliable for any of it we need to know her role in negotiating the settlement. and whether current nomination affected it in any way. further, december 2020 would nomination showed members on both sides of the allied concerns about her ability to remain impartial on matters related to the broadcasters and their contents. two weeks ago ms. sohn had a letter to the scc voluntarily recusing herself from any proceeding with the transmission consent or television broadcast copyright. however she based this recusal on a single filing at the commission while she was a president of the advocacy group public knowledge. if ms. sohn feels she cannot be viewed as impartial on
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matters related to this particular filing and docket so the same rationale extend to many other subject matters that public knowledge is submitted filings during her tenure? in our industry associations have expressed a concern that she suffered similar conflicts or at least the appearance of conflicts to the one she identified in her recusal letter based on ms. sohn own stated reasoning that seems to me this be additional matters she would need to recuse herself if she follows this rationale. in addition to the substantive questions pertaining to this recusal i'm also concerned about the circumstances that led to the drafting and the release of the recusal letter. the timing and scope of the recusal raise several questions that i hope we get answers to today put in particular who was involved with the formulation of the recusal agreement? was the support of any
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individual or entity predicated on the signing of such an agreement? was this read a quid pro quo which others have asserted what prompted her to recuse herself voluntarily and why now? given the importance of the scc commissioner's position and the need for all commissioners to participate fully in the agency's work, i am doubtful ms. sohn recusal resolve the outstanding concerns many members still have it. a fair assessment would lead one to conclude the public deserves a regulator they can trust to be impartial in all matters as well as one who can do the job for which she was nominated. ms. sohn is a brilliant attorney. and i have noted before she is knowledgeable and a determined advocate. but with these rising complications besetting or potential service as an scc commissioner, i question
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whether she is the best choice to fill this vacancy. there are indeed many other qualified candidates who would not have to recuse themselves and answer questions about legal settlements. i want to thank ms. sohn for appearing for the committee and i again think the chair. i await her testimony on these vital issues, thank you. ms. sohn welcome, think again for coming back very much appreciate your openness and your willingness to discuss these issues again. think it shows your level of transparency making sure issues can be done on a bipartisan basis, thank you. kirk's good morning chairwoman cantle, ranking member at wicker and members of the committee. before i start i want to for a full and fast recovery to senator lujan. it is been an honor getting to know him during this process and i look forward to seeing him on this again. i like to reintroduce myself before i address to matters
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that a been raised in recent weeks. i've been a public interest lawyer for over 30 years working towards one goal, ensuring all americans have access to affordable, open and robust communication networks. broadcasting, cable or broadband. during that time, i am lined up on the same side and other times in opposition to every regulated industry prime advocate for the public, that is what i do. if i am confirmed i be the first public interest advocate to sit on the scc. yet unlike the numerous nominees for scc seats that i've worked for commission regular teas, represented as clients are served on their boards, i've been subject to unrelenting, unfair and outright false criticism and scrutiny. despite the fact i have had over two to 50 organizations and policy experts and a three to 50000 citizens voiced their support including letters to this committee and op-ed. many are republicans and people you would never think
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in a million years would support me. in fact the parents television council just supported me this morning. fifth scc commissioner seat, not the chair who controls the agenda is probably a record. at the same time i realize this is not all about me. it is about someone to stop scc from doing its important work ensuring everyone in america has robust broadband regardless of who they are, what their income is, or where they live as mandated by the bipartisan infrastructure law. it is about stop and scc from insuring the media's diverse and serves the needs of local communities. stop an scc from ensuring our networks are resilient when the next disaster hits of the public stays connected and safe. and it is about stopping the work of congress including all of you and your predecessors have charges support. deadlock agency helps nope except for a few major corporations but most important it hurts the american people who need the scc to make hard decisions.
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now i will address of the questions up and raised on the confidential settlement agreement and make voluntary and temporary recusal from some matters involving consent and tv broadcast copyright sprint first the settlement of the press reports of men clear i have no financial liability stemming from the lawsuit indeed i never did from the day i joined the sports fans coalition board. this was not a settlement agreed that i negotiated. i was full and eager consent of the network plaintiffs set the amount to be paid $700,000 plus agreeing to turn over equipment to them. why didn't i mention this number and my response to center workers question for the record? because a confidential settlement agreement barred me, as well as the network plaintiffs and scc ny from mentioning the terms of the agreement in writing. this was a fact that whoever leaked the agreement to the breast conveniently omitted.
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also omitted was the fact the enforceable term sheet setting forth the particulars of the settlement was signed october 12, 2 weeks before i was nominated to this position. that term sheet is expressly referred to the settlement agreement. on october 12, the settlement between the networks fc ny was signed by the representative i had no idea whether or not i was going to be nominated or if i was going to be nominated at all. the parties did not know either. i took very seriously my duty to keep the terms of the settlement agreement confidential but others did not. in exploiting my inability to defend myself. now freed from the public disclosure of this information, despite a court order confirming all the terms of the settlement agreement including the duty not to discuss them with the press, i am here to answer the answer the baseless rumors it was swirled around this issue. second, i will adjust my voluntary recruits old which i undertook because of concerns raise the december 1 hearing to frs by members of this committee about my involvement.
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recusal is narrowly tailored and tied to my personal participation in a 12 year old petition for rulemaking the organization i represented filed seeking changes to the retransmission regime and docket that remains open. this precedent for such a voluntary recusal 1998 then chairman kinard recuse himself my fairness ducked for he discussing signed a pleading in the docket. this is not unprecedented. i know industry saying that but that is not true. as experts have noted my recusal is a voluntary, temporary extremely narrow and concerns business no way does it open the door seeking recusal for any position of advocate such a result will be perverse. and would prohibit anyone probably prohibit anyone not just public interest advocates and academics is taken any public position on
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telecommunications and media policy from serving on scc. a federal district court judge recently rejected a similar wide ranging request in the case involving effort to recuse a senior government official. he said it is natural that the president would select a candidate based on her past experiences and views. including on topics that are likely to come before the commission during her tenure. and how the administrator will implement priorities we eviscerate the proper evolution of policymaking were we to disqualify every administrator who has opinions on the correct course of the agency's future action. i have, and will continue to answer each and every one of your questions with complete honesty and to the best of my knowledge. thank you. >> thank you and again thank you for being here. i think the timing of the recusal after the hearing i made it something that we should talk about and
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certainly support your being here and your willingness to do that. let's just dive into some of this specifics. you did not negotiate the set of a cook too. >> no i did not attend nonprofit corporation i did not negotiate the settlement. it was by sportsman coal is generic i was never a party to the litigation. and from that very day i joined that board because there case in nehring agreement which i'm happy to talk about, i was never financially on the hook for a dime. >> as far as the timing of how and when they negotiated you also had no knowledge about that and was not driven by a court process? did the court outline this was now a negotiated settlement? so the court had said we want timing of this negotiated settlement by certain date? >> the court entered an injunction we had 30 days to decide whether to appeal or to settle. and obviously i was involved as a board member.
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>> by that you mean they consulted the board and the board had to sign off? >> they set look, we're up against the four biggest that networks were tiny little nonprofit we do not have that much money but let's just throw in the towel we lost was just thrown the towel. and then we had 30 days from september 152 decide to appeal or settle per click you had no control over that. your nomination let's just be clear, someone had suggested you might be in the if you wanted to be vetted and you agreed. because why not? why not been scc? that happened once before. so you had no idea what was happening on either end. you did not have control of the settlement you did not have control of your nomination. the court was driving the settlement process. let's get to this number amounts. as you said you did not mislead the committee on anything. you basically answer the question about the settlement
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and you were constricted by what you could say. you are not supposed to talk about the details of the settlement. then as you said the information had been leaked. the point is the court basically said we are not going to find for a low cast a new guy should a settlement by the settlement agreement then basically put the stipulation in their basically as a way to say to people do not ever think about these ideas because we think they cost us a lot. that's their way of expressing their future incentive it. but when it came down to settling they readily agreed to settle on what they thought was the real impacts. that is the difference between the number, is that correct? >> that is correct. the judge never ordered $32 million in damages, okay? want to clarify one of the thing of a maze editor. while caste was found not to have qualified for an exemption copyright law. no liability was found by the
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judgment does not have found to infringe anything it was just found to not have qualified for a statutorily imposed exemption by congress for nonprofit. i think that is important. $32million is what the networks could have sought and statutory damage per the judge did not ever say that low caste was liable for $32 million. but in it stipulation again in order to scare away the next low caste, parties agreed to put in a classes and statutory damages of $32 million. what's really interesting about that is the settlement agreement was already agreed too and signed by the time that stipulation was submitted to the court. there was never a question about whether $32 million was the actual amounts. the actual amount to be paid. >> again you're nothing to do with that part. >> nothing to do with that, no.
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as far as your recuse perusal, that recusal was about it open document issue. so basically you are saying i want to be transparent. i want to make sure there are no issues. i was on the board of this company and this company and this agreement and this settlement is related to an open docket that you had filed a letter on long ago in a previous capacity. so, you wanted to make it clear to people that open docket issue is something you are not going to go back and sit on the scc and deal with. until that is what you're recusal states is that correct? >> that is correct i counted no fewer than eight members of this committee asked when qfr's or hearing. so obviously it concerned me there is so much concern. so i wanted to address that concern by looking at the nexus of what i may have
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worked on before and this litigation. and i found this petition for rulemaking that i personally signed 12 years ago. for which there was a precedent i think that was very important. chairman kinard to the exact same thing is already sitting on the commission the voluntary, narrow and temporary recusal i will have in my opinion i'm happy to answer questions about this very, very little impact in my ability to be a commissioner of the scc. >> thank you. >> thank you madam chair. and thank you ms. sohn for being here. question three for the record that i submitted, where did the money come from for the payment of the $32 million settlement in connection with the low caste case? the settlement funds come from the amounts collected to fund
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operations after it funds its vendors. at least acknowledge your answer was evasive? >> no, sir, like could not i was bound not to discuss the detail of the settlement agreement. i took that confidentiality agreement very seriously. i do not agree i'm sorry i think i answered truthfully and to the best of my ability and to the best of what i was allowed to tell you because i was subject to the confidentiality agreement break. >> you answer truthfully but left the impression that $32 million was paid rather than only 2% of that amount to very. >> respectfully, senator, i could not talk about the 700,000. i was barred from doing that in writing but i know you have a copy of the settlement agreement. you can see right there i am borrowed from putting the terms of the settlement agreement in writing for it so i answered it as it directly
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and honestly as i could without violating my duty to keep the settlement agreement confidential. it is very unfortunate that it was leaked to the press and leaks very selectively. i ask of screenshots the selective pages of the settlement agreement that would leaked to the press. that has allowed for a lot of misinformation to bubble up. >> let me ask you then, eat when i obviously disagree on that matter. let's move on to the recusal letter, whose idea was that? >> oh well, it was my idea. but i did consult, i have a bunch of outside advisers who are smarter than i am. i wanted to make sure the scope of the recusal was not too broad. >> it any members of congress suggest to you and might be unlawful? >> short search i did speak to committee staff about it. i asked the thought is a smart idea i asked them it might
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elate some of the concerns. so i did speak to committee staff about it, yes. i think the general thought was it would not be a bad idea. >> was a suggested to you by the administration? coming down from the president? >> no, sir quite the opposite they're very, very much opposed to be recusing at all. >> your rationale for recusal on the retransmission issue was based on past filing from your organization known as public knowledge, is that correct? it was proceeding before the scc. the question that is out there , why stop there if you were going to use this rationale? you have filed comments on other issues before the scc including universal service
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fund. rate regulation. based on this rationale, why did you limit it to simply that one filing? and is it true that you're recusal is voluntary, that there is no enforcement mechanism? and that you could change your mind at any point and withdrawal the recusal? >> i'll answer the second part first grade yes you are actually right it is voluntary. and i could, i would not do that without seeking counsel from the ethics officials at the scc as i would do for many issues. but yes i could withdraw it. that is exactly what chairman kinard did. he consulted with ethics counsel, had voluntary recuse, he consulted with the ethics
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council and they said well do you know what customer it was 20 years ago when you were an intern you do not have to recuse anymore. so i could, i am not likely too. similarly i don't actually see any of these issues coming before the full commission which you can talk about. but yes i could. and could you repeat the first part of your question? >> this is one of just many filings that you have filed on behalf of public knowledge. and i mentioned rate regulation universal service fund as two of those. >> let me talk about that. this recusal is really what i call a purple cow. it is at the nexus, the low caste litigation and a filing i made 12 years ago. okay, there is no other such nexus you can find. i was trying to address the concerns of this committee around the litigation whether i would be biased. and i connected them to a petition for rulemaking.
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that i personally signed 12 years ago that addresses some of the same issues, ways in litigation. so no, to recuse them everything a public knowledge ever filed is without limits and basically prohibits any public advocate again not necessarily in the nonprofit sector could be someone who worked for a corporation or someone who works for a law firm it would prohibit them from being scc commissioner as well. so what you have isn't scc full of people with no knowledge about the issues about media, communication, policy and will think senator anybody really wants that. >> senator blumenthal. >> thanks madam chair. thank you for being here today and for answering these questions. so forthrightly and candidly. i want to join chairman cantwell in thanking you for
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your transparency and also your tenacity transparency and tenacity are two very important qualities in public interest lawyer, which you have been throughout your career. and i just want to say to you you should be proud of that career. you should be proud to be here today answering these questions and facing down these innuendos and allegations and dispelling any doubt about your qualifications to be a member of the scc. you are absolutely right, the reason you are here is bigger than you. it is part of an effort to deadlock, disarm, and disable the scc. and for folks who may not know what scc is, the federal communications commission and may have no idea why it matters if we have full
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membership on the scc. we need to recognize that it is stymied installed enforcing the law. we passed a myriad of laws it here in the united states congress they are dead letter if they are not enforced. and what we see here today really is a double standard. this committee had no qualms about approving in 2017 and associate general counsel at verizon. it was elated to approve a former president of the trade association. it raised no questions about conflict of interest. and yet you are always three there's no enforcement mechanism on a letter of recusal, so far as i understand that you have no intention as you sit here to withdraw that letter. correct?
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>> correct. so, let me just come to the heart of the matter. right now, if you are a consumer you are getting robo text and robocalls with fraudulent disinformation often obscene and disturbing messages. this proposal pending now before the scc to stop them. that proposal goes nowhere until you are confirmed, correct? >> that is correct. >> will you commit to approve a consumer protection law against those robocalls and robo text if you are confirmed? >> absolutely. >> right now before the commission there is a proposal that would give more access to people who live in apartment buildings. one third of america lives in apartment buildings.
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often there are revenue-sharing agreements with the broadband providers to reduce or entirely eliminate competition which would give them more access at lower cost. lower prices for broadband with more choices. that proposal to prevent that kind of stymieing of competition is pending before the scc. it goes nowhere unless you are confirmed, correct? >> i would agree one 100%. that is when i don't at the chair, as good as she is about getting four -- zero decisions would be able to get four -- zero decision on that that will be deadlocked. >> let me ask you, will you submit to approve better access for broadband to people who live in apartment buildings? >> i would have to review the record that is obvious in my inclination.
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>> i want to thank you for again, your willingness to serve the federal communications commission has jurisdiction over issues of consumer protection that are vital to the future of america. we are concerned about inflation, rising costs, the scc can do something about it. and i hope that my colleagues will be satisfied there is ample reason, abundant reason to be satisfied with the answers you have given so far to the chairman's excellent questions. and i hope we will move forward to approve your nomination, thank you for answering my question for. >> thank you. quick center phone are you ready? or would you like to defer? >> senator blunt. >> thank you chairman. last time you were here, i
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asked you specifically why -- how your actions as a public interest advocate should not bear on your ability to appear as a neutral regulator? response was the quote was context is very important the tweets were made in my role as a public interest advocate. part of my job. and then you say in terms that your cues so that it is not part of -- you are not recusing yourself because of the low cast but because of your public advocacy. i am a little confused about how you draw the line there? how do you decide the recusal would be for this one topic if it was part of your work as a public interest advocate as opposed to part of your
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service on the low caste board? >> that is a good question, said it appeared to be honest with you if i had to do it all over again i probably would've mentioned something about low cast in that letter because clearly that is what i was addressing was the nexus between the low cast and this 12-year-old petition for rulemaking. the reason i refer to the petition for rulemaking was because it was precedent. instrument canards precedent i alluded to that. but thinking about it now, i wish i'd said something about. but clearly, there is no reason given what transpired at the hearing and what was raised at the queue of ours for me too out of the blue voluntarily recuse because of a 12-year-old petition. it was clearly related to the low cast my service on the low cast board. and just as a reminder i did not have to recuse because of my service on the board.
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so i just wanted to, i probably should have made it broader. i didn't but that's clearly what i was addressing. i think everyone knew that i wish i would've been more specific. >> based on testimony i think senator wicker and cantwell both received letters from u.s. telecom which should be at&t and verizon and others. based on the rationale for your cues offer your review then get your exact because i did get my center blumenthal's quote to deadlock this arm and disable the scc is that why there is opposition your participating in these issues? >> i think there are certain very large companies that would like to see the scc
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continue to be deadlocked. they have been opposing -- it's no secret they have been opposing my nomination since the very beginning. they saw an opportunity because i did not mention low cast in that letter, again even though it's clearly obvious to anyone who has been following the saga of my confirmation or my hopeful confirmation my nomination. that is what is tied too. they are being opportunistic. and i understand that. but again, there rationale if you take it to its logical extreme there is no limiting principle and nobody with any knowledge was ever spoken about these issues would ever be qualified to be scc commissioner. and that is perverse senator blunt heights really think it's perverse i don't think anyone regardless of your party would like that. >> well, it is clear you are extremely talented and knowledgeable and experienced in telecom law.
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what is not so clear to me is what you could not be more forthcoming in that first hearing. your comments today about the agreement that none of this would be disclosed seems to me that what you did say was misleading at best. and maybe not intentionally so but there was not much information in the answer you gave but there was information in the question that you did not walk away from. so we had every reason to believe that settlement was $32 million as opposed to whatever the settlement was. and then i think i read some of the actual exchange of money was much less than the settlement amount. do you regret your answers the first time you were here to that question question rick senator, if i had talked about the $700,000 in that qf ri
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would've been violating the confidentiality settlement agreement that i would have regretted. i answered the questions in the queue f ours to the best of my ability and within the confines of the settlement agreement. let me mention one other thing if i may, i offered to you into senator wicker to get copies of the settlement agreement from the parties. since i was not a party to the lawsuit i could not give you that settlement agreement. senator wicker waited staff waited almost a month to get a copy of that settlement agreement. we could have had this conversation and i did meet with you senator blunt and i appreciate that. a lot of folks did not meet with me unfortunately, we could have talked about and gone through. i would have been able to actually talk about it with you one-on-one i just could not put it down in writing, okay? >> we have to go on to another topic.
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>> thank you chairman. >> senator mark big. >> thank you madam chair. i have been on the telecommunication house and senate for 46 years, no one has ever done this before. we had commissioners from so many different telecommunication backgrounds that raising an issue about ms. sohn about growing, working her whole career to protect consumers, my perspective raises an issue. that is the issue of whether or not she is in any way compromise in her ability to serve on the commission. well, i think it's just the opposite to be honest with you. the experience and knowledge ms. sohn developable advancing pragmatic telecommunication policies to improve people's lives makes her eminently qualified print center blumenthal's article on through so many of those issues and that neutrality with children protections,
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robocalls, you could on the whole line. so, from my perspective the federal communications commission chairman who had previously worked at verizon that is one example i could go through a couple of dozen commissioners who came from industries that were going to be unregulated. if he was qualified to bed scc, then ms. sohn certainly is qualified to be on the scc. having spent more than 30 years working from the public interest side of telecommunications policy. and i would note he did not recuse himself from any telecommunications issues even though he had worked for verizon before he arrived at the commission. so, i just don't want there to be a double standard here today. if we are going to have a standard we have to have a standard. and i think ms. sohn has done great work with her career.
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she has over 200 organization individuals who have called for her to be confirmed. i have never seen anything like that before in 45 years. she has been an incredible breakthrough candidate because of her lgbtq background. it is a critical time in communications history. especially when we look at issues like title to and the question of whether it is of vital essential utility or not. and so many other issues that have to be dealt with. i have supreme confidence in ms. sohn she is been given very convincing explanations for her earlier testimony and for her reasons for not in fact disclosing everything because of the confidentiality agreements that was part of
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their agreement. so, i would like ms. sohn just to give you additional time right now out of my time just to explain more fully if you would like the reasons why you believe you should be confirmed at this time. >> thank you it senator markey. so, i appreciate actually the expression from both sides of the aisle that you recognize i am qualified. i don't know i am brilliant but even though charles gus perino said that on fox news i thought that was pretty cool who would have thought. i appreciate that. but, what i want to make one 100% clear here is that i have answered your questions with one 100% honesty, the best of my ability that i could do given the constraints i had under the settlement agreement. and it is right there. i have the settlement agreement with me i could pick it out it's pretty easy to see
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i was barred from talking or writing about particulars of the settlement agreement. i also want to make another point that the settlement agreements are agreements for parties of both sides. let's talk about who's on the sides of the settlement agreement, you had the four major networks overflowing with a very fancy lawyers, lots of money. and on the other side he had this tiny nonprofit that only had $700,000 in the bank. that was trying to get poor people and people in rural areas access to tv broadcasting free over the air broadcasting. and i joined that were coming just after the litigation started i thought that was a really cool mission. but, even though the organization tried to operate under an exemption to cooperate that congress put into the law, court found it did not qualify.
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there was no judge said it was a copy light violation, it was piracy just look you don't qualify. the two of you parties go figured out. so the look has decided to settle as opposed to appeal. and i will say again and you can ask the networks they were very, very, very happy to do so. they wanted low caste shut down for the shut out low caste they paid all of the money we are now waiting for the networks to file a satisfaction of judgment which i was told three weeks ago that they were going to do but they still had not done it which i find kind of interesting. >> thank you madam chair. ms. sohn you notice or where three board there was of low caste you signed the settlement agreement. did the organization have the authority to settle the case without your signature, knowledge and consent? >> no. well, they did agree to the
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term sheet i did not sign that. but obviously i was on the board. now i could have said -- make if i'd say we should appeal the other two board member said no we've got to settle, but obviously i was consulted as to whether it should settle or appeal. so technically yes they could have move forward without my vote. >> you ever involved in discussions with the litigants about reducing the $32 million settlement agreement amount or immediately after your nomination prior to or should say immediately after? >> no, that was decided by the parties again i was never a party to the litigation. in fact they had stepped on the sports band coalition board i was never liable in any way i was not a party. i had nothing to do with negotiating anything. this was not my agreement to negotiate. >> were there any commitments made to support you publicly if you recuse yourself from
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certain issues? >> i have not gotten that support so know there's been no agreements. i don't think i have gotten anything other than a lot of heart ache for recusing. nobody has promised me any votes. nab is not supporting me they are neutral which is what they were before so i have not gotten anything because of my voluntary recusal. i did it because i thought was the right thing to do. >> i want to shift to a policy question i think you and i probably have big differences of opinion about how the scc ought to regulate the internet. i have argued in the past that what your position and others who share your position are saying is we want to regulate 82020 technology under a statute that is when 30 years old and a sign for connor's update that pretty offered to do that when as chairman of this committee. to do away with a lot of the things everyone is concerned
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about. and yet, we did not have any real particular willingness to negotiate on that. but i want to ask you because we have a back-and-forth now potentially between various administrations with the change of power we've got new rules which create uncertainty and lack of predictability and everything else. do you think the scc ought to come to congress when it comes to the next iteration if you will of neutrality rules to prevent the back-and-forth? >> senator, i would love to see congress settle the matter of scc authority and that neutrality. it's not just about the right lane rules. i know unfortunate as a death in your family were not able to come to the december when hearing and i'm sorry to hear that. but, i would love for congress to set up eight matter is not just about the rules is also about scc having oversight. as we learned during the pandemic it is very important, nobody says that broadband is not an essential service
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anymore. we must have an agency that's oversight. love to see congress do it. however i don't think the scc should wait until congress acts in order to restore that authority. >> so you come out in favor of course of the obama era neutrality rules you also suggested you support the scc going further to adopt policy to handle issues does that remain your position today yes or no? >> i mention these things, i think there's an article based on the paper i wrote in the year end a half ago. my position is always evolving. i cannot stand before you today and say i believe in next, y and z. i expect because based on her support for starting any proceeding that the chair will start a new proceeding. i will examine the record, i will confirm with you, i will confer with my colleagues and then i will reach a decision. whatever i wrote in 2020 was
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an academic paper and frankly it's just academic. there have been a lot of changes even in the year end a half and certainly a ton of changes since 2015 will me open the adopting this is changing the way consumers use internet access. i cannot really prejudge what i would, how i would rule specifically. >> very quickly the issue of impartiality, you are going to be a referee. you have taken sides as you pointed out. but some of the things you said in your twitter account, the attacks you have launched for example on fox news, trust me the latter have played their role in destroying democracy and elected autocrats like say fox news fox news that has most negative impact on a democracy the same tweet you said fox news is state-sponsored propaganda. you have attacked sinclair broadcasting just a minute ago you attacked the big for an answer to previous question. how are you going to be
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impartial? these are not positions these are attacks. and you are going to be a referee. >> senator, just to be clear i was not attacking the big four i was just saying they are big companies and they have more means than a tiny little nonprofit let me clear about that for. >> fox news was attacked three. >> let me talk about that. senator blunt i'm smiling at you because you and i talked about this on december 1, those tweets came in a discussion of big tech and whether they should be responsible for disinformation. it was set as a public advocate and a private citizen that has no bearing on any proceeding that fox be involved in. secondly fox news is not a regular tea of the scc it's a cable network in the scc does not regulate them but that is beside the point the larger point is the tweets were sent in my personal capacity i kinda wish my tone was a little less sharp.
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i don't kinda wish i do wish. and it would have no bearing on any proceeding that would come before me at the scc. >> think it madame cherbourg et cetera peters online remotely joining us? if not senator peters, senator baldwin, thank you. >> good morning. >> good morning. >> i want to thank you for appearing before the committee again. and for your continued willingness to serve our country as a commissioner on the scc. i want to echo what a number of my colleagues have said this morning. that you are extraordinary well-qualified for this position more than 30 years of varied experience directly with the commission's work you have a reputation for consensusbuilding across ideologies and industry.
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when you are confirmed you are going to be bringing a very important voice, that of a well -- seasoned consumer advocate to the agency's work at a critical time when it faces significant tasks on universal, affordable broadband deployment, broadcast immediate diversity and competition, and other issues. the commission will greatly benefit from your experience and perspective as it takes all these really challenging issues. and, the commission needs this full complement of commissioners. every day that your nomination is further delayed is a day when the scc cannot fully discharge the important responsibilities that we have given it.
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this exceedingly qualified nominee has answered our many questions and committed to a voluntary recusal of unprecedented scope. it is time that this committee move forward and confirm her. finally, i want to take a moment to recognize the historic nature of your nomination. when you are confirmed you will be the first openly lgbtq person to serve on the commission. and will join our first female permanent scc chair. i have been first a few times in my old career. i know it is not always easy. but having followed in the footsteps of others to get where i am today, i know how important it is to open those doors for your self and for future generations of public service.
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so i thank you. one quick policy matter, not quick. these are big matters. i believe there's tremendous value in consumers having access to relevant local news and other information. in a world when we can increasingly seek out sources that simply tell us what we want to hear timely trustworthy information that keeps people connected to their communities and their neighbors. the home state had the option of in-state broadcasts or satellite services. the experience as a consumer advocate do you agree to local
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media is important for improving our national discourse? do you believe the commission can strengthen local media and ensure consumers have access to relevant content? >> yes local broadcasting is the lifeblood of every community mother emergency services to every american, incredibly important. it really is, i agree with you it is against misinformation and toxic online culture. the scc must ensure it thrives and continues to grow. there are a number of media ownership and immediate diversity initiatives that will not move until there is a full scc. if we want to strengthen local broadcasting and strengthen immediate diversity we need to have a full scc. i hope that as part of the reason somebody will vote because i think it is necessary. this a lot of talk at the last
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hearing how important local broadcasting is. it is not going to thrive unless we move policies forward that allow it too. >> think it senator baldwin. next senator fischer. >> think it madame chair. good morning ms. sohn. regarding your letter you are recusing yourself into major media issues. as you know one of the men as you have recused yourself is the retransmission consent. chairwoman recently finished her confirmation process. she noted that she is supportive of a rulemaking review of retransmission issues. and in her written responses she observed given the changes in this market during the last several years, the scc should first refresh the record to inform efforts to complete the rulemaking congress requested in 2014. earlier, you said that you
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are -- four year reclosable on many of these issues -- as i understood it would not matter because these issues would not come up too soon. but if the scc does revisit this matter as the chairwoman would like, does your recusal of this major issue mean that you will not be able to weigh in at all? >> so let me clarify exactly what i agreed to recluse too. so for four years starting from the beginning of my chart which by the way began last july. the clock is already started to run. i am recused and participating in 1071 which is a 12-year-old docket that has not been refreshed since 2014. or any proceeding in the related proceeding that raises exact same issues. so, if the proceeding that the chairwoman has agreed to do
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fits that category, i've saved not be 1070 want to be something new if it addresses the same issues for pretty much three and half more years i would not be able to participate. i'm not sure my participation will be absently necessary so for three years i am again starting from last july the clock is already running if i'm converting up i will not be confirmed until who knows april question may come up maybe later. almost a whole year goes by. i am not allowed -- i voluntary recused myself and participating in any retransmission consent related items or broadcast tv related items. so yes, that three year commitment certainly would cover that i would say. >> this is really a pertinent
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issue. you brought up rural issues just a little bit ago about things that we face, disputes and tv blackouts. those are things across the board that we see. but i have frustration about that back home. are those issues that you think the commission is going to be able to pass three -- one? if so that counters your earlier comments that you made : : :
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dispute ever wind up to the full commission in fact i can't remember it being resolved by the bureau it might have been brought before but the parties because there are marketplace pressures it's interesting so in 2014 we put out a further notice that was based on that petition by the way that i filed that talked about possible changes and other things like syndicated exclusivity and so forth.
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you've made sure that your recusal doesn't impact the section of the 96 telecommunications act. did any part directly or indirectly affect media ownership issues? >> it did not and to be clear the office of general counsel, the officials did see the settlement agreement and determined. >> we appreciate that you're coming back today. you and i have had so many conversations i think we know
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our positions on the laws and some of those things. i do want to get to a couple of things. let me ask you this, are you an activist yes or no? >> i'm an advocate. >> you classify yourself as a public interest advocate correct? >> yes. >> tell me the difference between the two terms activist and advocate. >> i'm not sure there is that much of a difference. i worked to ensure the public is educated on communications and technology policy issues. >> as your term you used earlier it's a distinction without a
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difference. let me ask if you agree with the following actions because these are actions that are carried out by organizations that you've both praised and have been on the record of donating to in the past, so i think this is a good way to see where you stand with some of these things. to the chairman to act on net neutrality let him come to work. i didn't support that in fact i made the phone call and did this
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many times when the activists would flood our e-mail boxes like thousands of them. saying make it stop and i made it stop. i was the outreach coordinator so it was my job to tell these people to make it stop and i did. >> another organization you were involved with encouraged people to threaten violence against a chair man, his staff and family due to his views on net neutrality. >> what group is that? >> this is one of the groups i don't know if it was fight for the future or free press willing
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to find consensus with the other side another group put up billboards and materials calling senator cinema who is a member of this committee and another calling for senator cantwell to be removed from her position as the chair of the committee because she is as a letter to leader schumer says pandering to the broadcast. another the list goes on and on so i want to know when you publicly disavow organizations like fight for the future and free press.
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>> i've certainly criticized the tactics and don't agree with the tactics the way that i usually deal with it is talking to those folks. >> my time is running out. it's a concern for me because you've tweeted support for the groups and made donations to these groups and you've been a public interest advocate for the issues. you share the sentiment these groups are pushing for because you have advocated for that.
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including calling some of their actions cruel. to rip the consumers off act will. so, do you think you can be unbiased when you are working with these companies because when you are recused on the media issues it seems like you can't be impartial when it comes to the other issues and this is my concern. >> i understand and let me assure you whatever i may have said as a public advocate will have no bearing on how i look at the record and make decisions.
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this is the thing as you well know under the administrative procedure act you have to look at the totality and make a decision based on that record so what i said just like the chair man it didn't impact him and his work on verizon, my work with public knowledge isn't going to impact how i look at and balance the record of the proceeding. >> thank you. information age is an interesting period so we've had people become more and more knowledgeable on these commissions whether it's ferc, fcc they've been very knowledgeable staff people. i would say mr. o'reilly had some very distinct opinions.
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maybe not distinct enough in some cases and there might be a person from this staff that might like to be on the ftc, so i appreciate your answer there. senator peterson. >> thank you madam chair and again congratulations on your nomination and welcome back. we get to see you again in person to ask our questions. on the bipartisan infrastructure law established in the affordable connectivity program which provides discounts on internet service up to $30 per month for low income households and $75 off for households on tribal land as well as $100 for buying a device like a computer or tablet. according to estimates, 2.5 million michiganders which is roughly about a quarter of the population of my state will be eligible for these discounts,
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an important aspect of the infrastructure package that i don't think people realize and how important it is to have access to broadband high-speed internet. the fcc is making important progress but clearly there's a whole lot more work to do and last month they began soliciting comments on how to improve the discounts. this is critical because vulnerable communities might be less likely to access like these discounts in these communities. the fcc noted a large number of households in the public housing would benefit from affordable connectivity programs but only a small share of the people who rely on federal housing assistance are going to be enrolled in that process and this underscores why it's so important the fcc strengthens its outreach and awareness. so my question is can you comment on how your experience and work as a public interest advocate would inform the goal
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to expand access to discounts that make the internet service more affordable including for the millions of michiganders who are eligible for these new discounts but may simply not know about them? >> that's a great question and actually, my experience and connections in the public interest community make me i would say uniquely qualified if i were to be confirmed among those sitting at the fcc. i have relationships with digital inclusion advocates throughout the country. i have relationships with state legislators and policymakers in the public utilities and a service commissions. i have relationships with libraries and educational institutions. when i have a role it was really that, so i think i'm uniquely qualified to get the information from the ground, on the ground how is this program working, how can we fix it, how can we
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strengthen it, how can we get libraries and schools to be part of this program. so i see that as an important role for me using those relationships on the ground to try to build a more successful program. >> could you explain why having a fifth commissioner would help ensure the fcc is able to implement this robust plan to address these and certainly other issues associated in the affordable connectivity program? >> congress mandated the affordable connectivity program be implemented, so you're going to get buy-in for at least starting the program and getting it running but there will always be little if she was at the margins that could be very, very important that you might not be able to get so let me use an example. there is a debate over whether
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folks should have to give the last numbers of the social security number and that's very important to folks that are not necessarily citizens and while the two republicans did vote for that for the votes not requiring the last numbers on the social security number to get these connectivity programs, it was one of those issues that really shows you're not always going to get unanimity and you needed that vote. there are issues on the margins that could be critically important to the successful use and implementation and oversight of the affordable connectivity program that you just need that. most are not 3-2 votes but there will be votes that have to be 3-2, and you need this person to be able to make hard decisions. >> thank you again for your answers.
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thank you madam chair. >> senator moran. >> thank you, chairman cantwell. welcome back. >> [inaudible] -- i think it's a fair description you've indicated you support, quote, reasonable broadband pricing. my question is are those two things inconsistent, and if yes, what is your position and if no, what is the difference? >> i apologize but could you please give me a little more context where i might have talked about who doesn't support reasonable broadband pricing? nobody wants high prices. did i say the fcc should implement reasonable broadband, did i say they should rate regulated because i don't know where i said that. >> i don't know if you said it that they should regulate so let me just ask you should they? >> at the last hearing as you
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know i expressly disavowed any support for the fcc implementing the regulations. they tried to debate in the '90s and it didn't work out well. so no i wouldn't support it. >> your statement in the last hearing is a distinction with the difference i say. >> and overbuilding. we are putting a lot of dollars into broadband deployment. at the department of commerce and the fcc. one of the things i've champion to to make sure the dollars we are putting in goes to places that have no or very poor connectivity and speed. is there any circumstance you would see that it's appropriate to overbuild or will you make certain that the dollars and the instructions those dollars go to
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places that wouldn't be overbuilding. it does not comply and is there any exception to the rule? >> i think it's a fine a model for the fcc to spend the money in these areas first and then and only then after the states have demonstrated that they've provided the money to these areas to go to those that are underserved because it's not only important to make sure those with nothing have something. once the money is spent there, it's important for those that ver good connectivity.
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they have it but they have stuff that doesn't allow them to make a living. once the money goes to places that don't have anything then folks that do have something good something that's inadequate should also get the money. >> i don't disagree with that. lots of agriculture producers you earn a living in many places in kansas in agriculture and elsewhere. net neutrality. my understanding is the ranking member anna senator cinema formed a working group to explore solutions through the concerns about net neutrality and i wish that on a less than partyline vote we developed what would be called net neutrality
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or the policy in this arena. can you explain why the fcc if you believe this should preempt congressional efforts to get legislation passed? >> i guess i don't consider is preempting. i consider it working alongside it. in the paper that was referred to before i did say they should reinstate its authority but i also said at the same time it must work with congress for a permanent solution. i feel very passionately about this because i think congress has frankly allowed this back and forth ping-pong game. i don't want to blame anybody in particular, to go on for too long and it's up for congress to give the appropriate authority as well as give them specific authority to adopt the net
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neutrality rules or layout of the rules and legislation. however, as i said before, consumers can't wait to have oversight and right now they do not have oversight of broadband and i think if they were to act, that might kickstart the congressional process. i would love to work with folks that want to see a congressional result. >> congress needs to do its job and we need to work together. we have different points of view. everything doesn't have to be a 3-vote. i want congress to deal with net neutrality and i certainly prove that to the fcc by the 3-vote or whatever it might be having that result. >> thank you, senator moran. senator rosen. >> thank you, chair cantwell and chair wicker it's good to see you. thank you for agreeing to come back to the committee to answer
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these additional questions. it's so important and i want to thank you again for meeting with me in my office to discuss the real issue was we have back home in nevada as raised by my constituents and agreeing to come to nevada to meet with everyone if confirmed. i also appreciate you reaffirming your commitment to broadcast diversity to rural broadband development a building on what senator moran and others have said but these are also critical priorities for nevada. the state is more than a quarter. we have one of the fastest growing populations in the country and so we place a premium on greater representation and broadcast spaces so i was glad to hear about the interest in removing the barriers from the minority owned and broadcast stations, something i asked in the first confirmation hearing. i'm going to ask for the record you did commit to this in my office. will you again please comment if
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confirmed you will come to nevada as soon as possible to meet the key stakeholders on the ground including the nevada broadcasters to hear their concerns and engage in that important dialogue on the issues within the fcc's jurisdiction important to nevada. >> i just started watching the tv show that takes place in las vegas and i was thinking about coming to nevada. i haven't been to vegas in a while so i'd love to come and see more. >> the tv show is great but the best thing about being in all of nevada, i know i'm sitting here by jon tester about the great blue skies and beautiful mountains are on display every single day so you will enjoy the scenery as well. but we want to talk a little bit about the bipartisan infrastructure law. if confirmed of course you will have a significant role helping to close the digital divide. something again everybody is
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concerned about. and as one of the members who worked on developing the bipartisan infrastructure law and helped to draft many of the broadband provisions i do know this is a once in a generation investment and in nations infrastructure and we have to have the staff and the resources to make this investment a reality and that includes a fully functioning fcc. the new law sets forth several markers that need to be hit as n including ones related to the fcc broadband mapping plan critical to us doing our job and that's directly tied to the law broadband deployment program. unless we map it, how do we know where we meet at exactly. you talk about how you envision the fcc's role implementing the bipartisan infrastructure law and including lowering the barriers to accessing adoption. >> you hit the nail on the head. the first thing that needs to
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happen is they've got to get done because as the secretary of commerce testified last week, they can't give out the money until the maps are finished so i well, if i am confirmed, i will be a partner to the chair to get those maps done and get them done accurately. obviously the fcc also has oversight and has to implement the affordable connectivity program that i discussed before that provides a $30 subsidy to folks that cannot afford broadband and that's something that's going to be very important as well. but even on top of that, the fcc is tasked with doing a report on the future of universal service and how the broadband bipartisan infrastructure law actually reduces or changes in some way its obligations under universal service, because there's been a lot of talk about how broken the
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universal service program is particularly in the contribution mechanism and getting that report done right will have recommendations not only for the fcc but also congress on how to make sure there's ongoing funding for broadband and ongoing funding in the future so we've got a lot of work to do. >> i'm glad my broadband deployment available as part of that, but i want to talk about i brought up my skylines for a reason because our terrain is often difficult. we have rural and tribal areas and frontier. we are one of the most mountainous states in the lower 48, very rough country to go through. so laying fiber isn't always possible. the terrain gets in the way so based on the discussions about the unique broadband challenges, can you tell us how you might have confirmed to help ensure
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the rural communities and tribal communities are separated again by challenging terrain and could have equal access to that high quality affordable broadband? >> this is something again the infrastructure addresses that it is preferred to have the most future proof, resilient high-powered broadband out there. however, there are areas that will need to be served by other technologies, by wireless, satellite. in tia, they need to be flexible when it comes to those places, specifically with regards to tribal. i've been a huge advocate for the tribes having more sovereignty over the spectrum over their land and over the wireline networks as well and i just had a fascinating conversation with the president and vice president of the navajo nation about how they can increase their sovereignty over
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their broadband. and in arizona it's too bad senator cinema isn't here. i saw the power of them owning their own broadband and it completely transforms it. >> to change healthcare, education, so many things. thank you for holding this hearing. thank you for being here today. given the incredibly important position you are nominated to hold its important to discuss previous statements you've made. quote, fox news has had the most negative impact on the democracy and fox news is, quote, state-sponsored propaganda. whether you are a fan or not is pretty disturbing. someone nominated to the federal communications commission can make a public opinion on one network or another. you also stated senate republicans ideology has
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overtaken their duty to serve as constituents. in the last hearing you told my colleague senator blunt, and i quote, my opinion is the public interest advocate will have no bearing on how i behave as a policymaker if confirmed. however in the world where censorship of her political opinions were covid-19 have actually run rampant and it's become a detriment to the society i think more than ever we need more public discourse not less. not only have you advocated for censorship, but you've also said you would recuse yourself from a number of issues facing the fcc due to conflicts of interest. i struggle to understand how the american public can trust you to fulfill all the duties of the position if you are not able to be involved in the service that is now illegal. it seems if the american public would be better served if we had a nominee that could participate in the commission's work without recusal. a few questions for you and i will go through them and then you can answer. ideology about the senate republicans are you most
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concerned about and you claim to dictate how you will perform as a policymaker but given your document and negative comments about the republicans and broadcasters how can you expect the american public to trust you as an and personal and in response to the written questions in the last confirmation hearing, you stated you did not believe the government should regulate internet rates, however, you indicated in a tweet in 2020 that the fcc had the authority to mandate low cost broadband plans that sounds like rate regulation to me. so how's your position changed on the internet rate regulation. >> there's a lot there so let me take it one thing at a time. i think the ideology tweet if i recall i was upset because there was an effort to try to be expanded during the pandemic to households so the funds could be used to pay for kids who are home because of the pandemic and i was told by a staffer that
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republicans didn't want to expand. they didn't want to turbocharge his or something along those lines. my tweets including the one you've got up there had been said perhaps in a tone i would maybe slightly regret today in the process of debates as my role as a public advocate and part of a debate over policy. they are not some personal opinion i kind of threw out there. they were part of my role as a public advocate. let me also say that i have praised republicans on twitter, including senators baker, moran, sass, romney, portman, markowski and holly and representatives scalise, in fact i looked up when i was a president of public knowledge we gave president isa anna ward. i've criticized democrats and i can list those for you if you
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would like. do i generally criticize republicans, i generally do more than democrats, probably given who i am it's no surprise, but it's not a one-way street, so i want to make that very clear. let me talk a little bit about that tweet in particular. it was done in the context of a hearing about social media and how they have a negative impact in our democracy. so i did raise the plaintiff this is true of fox news as well. fox news isn't a regular of the fcc's of again while i regret my tone i wish it was a little less sharp, i don't think it would impact of the work i would have to do because i would have no oversight if i am confirmed for fox news and even if i did, let's say i did just for the heck of it, i would have to look at the record, i'd have to
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consult with my colleagues and congress before i come to a decision. >> based on this you still believe you are in partial? >> i've been on the same side, more on the opposite side of every regulated industry. i've had people -- people may have seen my friend who worked for rupert murdoch and disney with a copyright hawk extraordinary that's written in bed and letters, just wrote a letter to this committee. i mean,, folks i disagree with him vehemently on policy issues still support me because they know i'm fair and i'm unbiased and they know my door will always be open and i will always listen. so absolutely i believe i can be in partial. >> senator sullivan. >> thank you, madam chair.
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i don't even know where to begin here. i am also very disturbed. we had a discussion at the last hearing on your tweets. we are not nominating you for any normal assistant secretary. the fcc commissioner, enormous power particularly as it relates to free speech. actually as it relates to liberty and our country, and i think senator scott raises some really important points, which is i don't see how you can be unbiased. fox news is state-sponsored media, propaganda. republicans know the only way they can win an election is to suppress the votes, these are yours. here's one, your raggedy white supremacist president and his cowardly enablers would rather kill everybody then stop killing black people. that's a retweet.
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that's way out there. you think most republicans are racist and white supremacists? >> absolutely not. do you remember read tweeting that? >> i do not but i have tweeted probably over 10,000 times, so i don't remember. >> i think the average american with a democrat or republican is tired of this. the number of biden nominees who come out and have tweeted about republicans being white supremacists and racists, it seems like that's how you get nominated in this administration. you're one of them, we've had a bunch here. if people are just tired of it. and i raise issues with the comptroller with socialist views. a lot of republicans had issues with her and democrats. you know what she said when she was asked about republican criticism of her views? quote, they are racist.
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people are just tired of this. do you have a view on that? do you think all republicans are racist? >> absolutely not. as i just told senator scott, i've praised many republicans on twitter come off twitter, on press releases and giving them awards when i was in the nonprofit, when i lead a nonprofit. >> your organization that you ran for many years, public knowledge, they called this hearing pointless. do you think this hearing is pointless? >> i've not been affiliated with public knowledge for eight years. i left in 2013. >> do you think this hearing -- >> no, i definitely think it has a point. >> do you think the u.s. senate, having a committee looking at the ethics and recusal issues of a very important powerful nominee, do you think that's pointless? >> no, senator sullivan, and i'm here and happy to answer every question that you have for me.
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i will answer it honestly added to the best of my knowledge. >> so you don't agree with some of the organizations that wrote senator schumer calling on chairman cantwell to be removed -- >> of course i don't. >> i don't either. i think chairman cantwell is doing a good job. >> i agree. >> i have a hard time thinking you can be neutral when you've been so involved i think you're recusal raises more questions. by the logic of the recusal letter, shouldn't you be recusing yourself from anything that public knowledge has filed while you were president? >> absolutely not. i explained this before. >> please be brief because i have more questions. >> the reason that i filed this letter was because i was
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addressing specific concerns including by you, senator sullivan, about my involvement. you missed this earlier in the hearing, but i should have put that in a letter. i did not. instead i tied it to a 12-year-old petition. but certainly it had to do with the concern of i counted no fewer than eight members of the committee over my involvement. >> that the 1100 different public filings by public knowledge all go to the heart of matters in which you're going to be in power to rule on. so you've come in as the president and cofounder of that organization with all kinds of views as it relates to many of these issues, not random issues, issues front and center in terms of your power should you be
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confirmed. so, isn't that the definition of meaning you need to be recused? i actually think the recusal is the tip of the iceberg as it relates to the settlement. i think you should be recused on the 1100 public filings, and if that's the case, you might as well not even be confirmed because you weighed in on almost everything. why shouldn't you recuse yourself on everything else? >> this is a voluntary recusal. i have other examples as well, on a very narrow issue that indirectly tied to my involvement. >> you're not answering my question. >> senator sullivan -- >> i'm not badgering her, i'm trying to get her to answer my question. >> she said she will answer your question. we do have a vote underway, so everybody's gotten their first five minutes. would you yield to senator wicker and then you can come back and ask more, would that be possible? >> yes.
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>> thank you. >> i will go vote now. >> just quickly, you repeatedly talked about the confidentiality provision in the settlement and is that paragraph 6.0 -- we are having trouble finding that. >> it's right here. >> read that to us. >> no party will communicate or authorize anyone to contact or communicate with the media or press, orally in writing or otherwise concerning the agreement or the order or issue any press release or other written statement disclosing the terms of the agreement. as asked by the media press the council may only stay the litigation is over and referred the person inquiring to the order. >> so, it seems to me that
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paragraph 6.0 is about press releases and speaking to the press. and i notice you emphasized in your voice other written statements. you clearly were not prohibited by this paragraph from answering a question to the congress committee of the united states senate. >> that is not how i was advised by counsel. i was advised by counsel that i could not reveal -- because partly because whatever is in mike ufr is going straight to the press because it is public. >> i don't think this prohibits you from answering forthrightly to the committee on questions for the record. one other thing, you said you didn't get anything in exchange
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for your written recusal. it is a fact you pretty much turned to the national the natin of broadcasters around because of your recusal. is that correct? >> that's not correct. they do not to support my nomination. they are remaining neutral which is where they were before. >> okay. here is what i have that when your nomination came out, they expressed concerns after the recusal they said this. the ceo of nab, mr. curtis look at, said, quote, the agreement resolves the concerns of nab raised during the nomination. and they appreciate the willingness of the transmission consent and broadcast copyright
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and to address those concerns in the recusal. we look forward to the senate moving forward with the confirmation and are eager to work with her and the full complement of commissioners in the very near future. if that is a neutral statement, that's not the way i read it. i read it as very supportive. >> except i asked curtis he told me it's not supporting my nomination. they remain neutral. >> did you talk with anyone from nab about whether or not you should disclaim this recusal? >> no. >> thank you. senator sullivan, just so members know i'm trying to get the last questions in and get to the vote, so if there's anybody else out there, you better come now because he would like to get to the vote. thank you. senator sullivan.
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>> thank you, madam chair. i do want to go back to this issue that i just raised a couple of minutes ago, and it goes to this issue of the recusal. and again, we all have our views. i think a lot of the industry has taken a neutral position in part because you're going to have so much power over them, which i think is also troubling, but let me -- there is a recent letter to senator cantwell and senator wicker from the end cta, and they raise the same issue i just raised and i'm going to quote from it. michael powell, former commissioner and well respected. in the letter he said first there is no explanation for why
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these particular broadcasts matters are singled out given the breath of the issues in which public knowledge was involved under the leadership. her recusal should logically extend to all matters in which public knowledge was active or conversely none of those activities should give rise to the recusal, so you're kind of in this middle zone saying i'm going to be recused, and yet kind of half in to address some of the issues senator wicker mentioned. but you have weighed in at, you and your organization, you were the cofounder, so that's your voice on all kinds of issues that are again, front and center and that goes directly to senator scott's previous question which is how can you come into this from the perspective of a neutral observer that doesn't have a predisposed view on some of
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these issues, that is a polite way of saying legitimately for this hearing, which i think this goes to the issue of conflict. it seems to me you have conflicts everywhere and that makes your impartiality, not to mention your judgment, i think you have a very big issues with judgment given your previous tweets when you besmirch half of the population is white supremacist, probably not very good judgment, but again, to the recusal issue, why should you be recused on everything you've come in on? these are front and center issues directly that are going to be before you if you are confused -- confirmed. >> it is tethered to my board member time at comcast. the way you're describing my recusal is untethered to any concerns raised by this committee about any relationship
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that i had. >> in the form of me, raising concerns right now about your advocacy as the head of public knowledge. >> i understand, senator. and by your logic -- >> the industry, one of the elements of the industry that you are going to regulate has the same issues. this is one of many letters we've received. >> yes, senator. let me try to explain. by your logic nobody who had ever taken a public position on any telecommunication or media issue, be they a corporate lawyer, lawyer in private practice, academic would ever be able to be an fcc commissioner. >> that is what you're saying. >> 1100 filings. there's a big difference. at a certain point, quantity becomes its own quality. >> the ethics rules don't say that and of the ethics laws don't say that. this is a voluntary, temporary
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narrow recusal. >> but you don't think this goes to the issue of impartiality? >> no because i believe i can be impartial because i would have to look at the record. frankly i didn't have to recuse here. i was doing this solely to address the concerns of many members of the committee about my involvement -- >> let me ask one other -- >> i certainly believe i could be impartial with broadcast tv but i voluntarily recused -- >> i'm going to ask another question before my time is up. >> net neutrality. do you think congress or the fcc has the authority to undertake net neutrality? here's more specific, many of us on both sides of the audio here, senator thune, senator cinema, senator cantwell have been working on this issue. it's complicated. it's taking a long time. that's part of the
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constitutional structure as you know. ask james madison about how long it can take particularly on something very complicated. here's the question i have. is it ever okay to say look, you elected officials are not very knowledgeable, you are taking too long. let us experts get to work and we will devise net neutrality rules. this is kind of what the chair man did. i know you worked for him on that. who has the authority to undertake net neutrality legislation? >> legislation obviously congress. fcc adopts policy -- >> you are over another 40 seconds. i'm trying to get these guys in
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on round one. >> may i answer? >> please. >> i think it was senator moran. i would love to see congress to settle the issue of fcc end net neutrality, but until then the fcc has the authority to act and federal courts, dc circuit. in the cases the fcc has the authority to act and with the neutrality rules and the authority to repeal them. >> she's answered the same question with some colleagues is why i was trying to speed up. okay we have senator young. >> thank you, chairman. welcome. you are required to recuse yourself of any matter that you could have a financial benefit. however, as it's been discussed repeatedly today, you chose to submit a voluntary letter of recusal to the fcc's acting general counsel on a
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january 207th informing them that should you be confirmed, you would recuse yourself from any matter, quote, where retransmission consent or television broadcast copyright is a material issue,." you explained in this letter that this is done to avoid any appearance of impropriety and to ensure the public has full confidence that policymakers will make decisions free of bias. your letter goes on to explain you signed a petition for rulemaking in the fcc's rulemaking process for this issue. as my colleagues have discussed, the committee is in possession of the list of other issues that may show that you have a potential bias dating back to 2001, many of these also show your signature. i won't list every instance here of course but i will be including them in my questions for the record. today, however, can you just reiterate for me why you would
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recuse yourself regarding the retransmission consent, but not other issues, or more specifically when you voluntarily recused yourself in the future, what is in short, the rule? >> the reason that i submitted this letter was to address concerns from many members of the committee over my involvement. and i tired of that based on precedent to a petition for rulemaking that i signed 12 years ago, so that's very, very narrow. now, if there are other documents that i've signed while in public knowledge, i would be happy to talk to the ethics counsel about whether i should recuse. i'm happy to do that. anybody can challenge my impartiality. that's possible. industry could do that, but this is the only issue because of the general concern in the committee that i am agreeing to voluntarily recuse myself
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temporarily from a set of very narrow issues highly unlikely to come before the commission. >> so, i believe you said before, this voluntary recusal is a purple cow and reflection of concern from a number of members of this committee during a hearing last december. some of my colleagues have pointed out the committee favorably reported nominees that worked in the industry and for a particular industry aligned associations and have eluded to the idea some of the questions are the result of the public interest advocate. sitting here genuinely attempting to understand the source into the details and future impact of the recusal. and why you did appoint to that you mentioned the 1998 recusal as precedent and it raises questions of how this is all going to play out in the future.
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so i will ask how binding is your recusal letter? >> it's voluntary. so, i could with the advice of counsel recuse myself or they would basically give me a license to recuse myself. it's not permanently binding. >> you can simply resend it. >> i would not rescind it without consulting with counsel let's say the chair came to me and said i need you on this issue it's kind of a gray area and whether there's a problem with impartiality that's kind of the standard from the ethics rules that you look at.
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>> one final thing i think you've laid the foundation for this. having reassured the committee and members of the public, do you have any concern that anyone that might be affected by the decisions could undermine trust in the fcc's stability moving forward if that recusal changed and at some point in the future since you do have the flexibility to change it after consultation with the ethics counsel. >> i've had overwhelming support from the public. 350,000 citizens, 250 organizations including i didn't get to talk to senator scott about the censorship issue from the ceo and president now of the
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council. the administration has a pattern of using their power and getting struck down in court over and over again. as you know, i have significant concerns about your record that you've demonstrated a hostility in particular to fox news. the fcc is a difficult place to have the authority to silence political views with which we disagree. we now have a second issue that implicates ethics that i think is deeply serious. a board member of the sports
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fans coalition new york which operated. ultimately the case was settled. the administration announced the end and to nominate you decembe. the confidential settlement agreement was signed on october 207th, 2021, the day after the intent to nominate. the nomination was made october 208th the public settlement was filed and claimed
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the plaintiffs were going to be paid $32 million if they had a 32 million in damages. that was the settlement announced on the day of your nomination but nobody knew at the time is that the secret settlements cost $32 million down to 700,000. i've litigated a lot of cases and settled a lot of cases. i don't recall a case that my clients had one that we had a victorious judgment for two cents on the dollar but i've never had a case against someone who was about to be the regulator of my industry on the face of that, that's a sweetheart deal. did you disclose that deal. to the company on whose board you served or rather not paid from the company that is essentially a gift from the
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company the fcc's regulated. >> i was never financially liable from the day i stepped on the board because there was a case. >> did you disclose the secret settlement agreement for 700,000, did you disclose it to the committee, yes or no? >> no because i was not allowed.
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provision 6.0 no party will communicate or authorize anyone to communicate with of the media or press in writing or otherwise concerning the agreement or the order. last time i checked the senate is not the press. there's nothing in this agreement that prohibits you from disclosing to the senate and let me ask you this did you disclose it to the white house? .. >> i was not a party -- that i know about what to think of the dollar, 31 million $300,000 abc
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nbc and cbs effectively gave away the company on whose boards you sent. >> a foresighted. >> were nominated for no because i didn't sign it until after i was nominated. >> why did it matter when you signed it? knew about it didn't disclose that. >> yes, i did. let me back for a second, and we talk about the timing? you are wrong on the timing. it was a currency that i did not sign that lays out -- october 12. as referred to in the settlement agreement if you look at the bit that doesn't change the timing -- >> there's no sweetheart deal. >> caps on a sweetheart deal, sweetheart you asked me for the
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settlement, they got for our phone networks up against a tiny little nonprofit. >> by the way, the one who didn't sign the agreement was fox news. fox news also happens to be the network you shown incredible animus towards. to say, i've been in the senate ten years, i've never seen a nominee for any regular board who at the exact moment of her nomination solid companies that would be regulated by her effectively give $31,000,300 gift to accompany on whose board she sits. that's stunning and disturbing. >> respectfully, i would like to explain. the judge first of all, was not found to infringe copyright. they were found only to have not qualified for the congressionally mandated nonprofit exemption.
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the judge did not say they violated copyright, no liability and did not impose a $32 million judgment. >> is this accurate from what was publicly filed? plaintiffs are award statutory damages under the copyright act against sports fan 32000, that's probably and also the private agreement was reduced to -- >> let me explain. >> i have to interrupt. i want to get a few things in but senator lee is staff but i'm going to submit something for the record as it relates -- we been in this big privacy discussion and the privacy discussion has been questions we've asked commissioners who have been here whether some isp
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sector -- >> are you going to let her answer? yes. >> there was a question -- >> you mean your question? >> yes -- she's answered this about five times already, that's why i'm trying to get something because i have to go vote. we are trying to be accommodating here and now the floor is 40 minutes into a boat and we have a policy we try to cut members off some trying to put something into the record. >> so you will not let her answer. >> she's already answered it and she can continue to answer after i leave and then we will go to senator lee. you keep putting this information out there and shall answer and i'll answer as well but i'm also trying to get this onto the record. okay, if you could, you could do it for the record, the issue is moving under the ftc -- we had a
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hearing about broadband and also larger privacy issues facebook highlighting policy on the subcommittee and we are working on privacy legislation and i will submit a question but this recent report saying these were doing the same behaviors the larger internet companies were doing violating people's privacy is something who want on the record and thing we should maybe have hearings about for the future. okay. you can finish -- >> you're looking at the injunction and that states the plaintiffs are award statutory damages in the amount of 32 minute files on the 28th.
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the $700,000 agreement was agreed to long before that. language is in there because the networks wanted that language agreed to between new york and the four networks. the networks want to the language does getaway anybody who might want to -- >> you said you didn't sign the secret agreement, holding the signature page, your signature is on it october 27. the day before you are nominated you signed the agreement, the public agreement says to billy and the secret room is a 700,000 you cap that secret. >> it's a confidential agreement. >> not under the terms of, you are not allowed to talk to the press but you were -- >> that's not counsel advised me. they said not to speak about orally or in writing.
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>> that's with the provisions us. >> that's how you interpret it but that's not advised by counsel but the larger part as the judge never issued a mandate or said anything about $32 million that language was part of the negotiations which was sports fans new york and the language to scare off low castes that might come off in the future for the judge did not impose a $32 billion fine. language is there part of an agreement a document was filed long after the agreement to pay $700,000 retail, it was agreed to on october 12, 2 weeks before i was nominated and i didn't even know at the time neither to the parties whether and when i would be nominated. i honestly had given about that time.
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>> senator lee has been waiting patiently for his time and we are in the middle of a vote. >> one of the reasons earrings like this can be heated and contentious is the ftc has in the questions i want to ask, who has lawmaking authority under our system? a federal agency or congress? >> congress. >> a sense to that's an agency shouldn't legislates that will be prescribing rules of a book ability to the public without authority from congress, would you agree? >> yes. >> an agency, once granted authority can find its rulemaking authority delegated by congress? >> yes. >> what about where there is ambiguity?
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shouldn't administration -- should they harness the ambiguity and use it to parlay it into rulemaking power to force the hand of congress? >> i slid lived and died by this document and the supreme court said where language of the law is ambiguous unless what an agency does, they get it. >> i get that but see what i'm saying, i agree with your first two answers and i also understand the chevron doctrine and what it says and what it does. it's important to contrast the answers you provided in response to my first two questions which i agree wholeheartedly with other statements you've made, some of which concerned me. one that concerns me in particular deals with a pretty
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good example of the kind of thing that i'm concerned about generally, statutory ambiguity to force the hand of congress, the entity that must delegate the rulemaking power because when that happens people selected lawmakers no longer are in the driver seat. this statement i want to draw your attention to is one you made in the context of net neutrality when asked about net neutrality legislation. he said as became clear during the covid pandemic, broadband is an essential service and cannot continue without oversight. therefore while i would urge congressional action, consumers cannot be left unprotected while congress deliberates. we both agreed an agency shall exercise lawmaking power absent
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congressional delegation authorization to do that and get it seems to be the opposite of what you said you'd like to do, are saying while congress deliberates, if congress doesn't act to your satisfaction, the fcc would have to jump in and make up the difference. how can that be reconciled? if you try to force the hand of the agency of the lawmaking body of the federal government, by doing that which only congress can do, how is constitutional? >> i might have misunderstood you, obviously congress said specifically the agency cannot act it cannot act. where it is ambiguous, chevron counsel, the agency can act. i'm not sure the fcc, i know when i was at the fcc and
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adopted, we didn't act in order to force congress' hand. i would like congress to act but we acted because we believed broadband needed oversight and need to be protected and promoted -- >> why congressional action if congress need not act? >> click on this ping-pong game for 20 years for you have a democrat in office saying how to work authority and a republican and a republican comes and says no deregulate. this is not good for anybody, not for consumers our industry so i'd like to see congress resolve the question enough let's talk about another quote from a while it's usually preferable congress be explicit in this direction there likely will be instances where an agency must rely on expertise to
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interpret the intent of congress. you stated and you and i agree congress is the lawmaking party and the agency should exercise only that lawmaking powers delegated by congress so how does an agency's expertise interpret the intent of congress? is the intent what that plate or is it the meaning of the statutory meaning of the words? i think you can see my concern that to the extent we have federal regulatory agencies charged with administering a particular federal regime, it gives regulatory enforcement authority to the extent the people operating thought agency have ambitions and policy views that extend beyond what congress utilized. especially with chevron being used almost as a sword, not just
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a shield to penetrate the will of congress and force their hand to act for congress declined to act. isn't that a problem? >> let me make two points, number one again, i think it bears repeating many times, i would love to see congress act to give appropriate authority congress has not acted -- >> what is a tell you that you have the power to act simply because they don't have the power to act? >> the d.c. circuit set in both cases the ftc has authority to bring broadband under title ii and adopt neutrality rules so the courts have spoken and as i've said before, i've lived and died by chevron, it's an imperfect doctrine for the is the law of the land. >> thank you, senator lee. that concludes our hearing for this morning.
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thank you for appearing before the committee today and your continued to commitment to public service. i hope today's hearing addresses members concerns once and for all. senators will have until monday february 14 noon to submit questions for the record to the committee. one week to respond to the questions. thank you again and that concludes today's hearing. [inaudible conversations]
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