President Clinton has selected San Francisco telecommunications lawyer Rachelle B. Chong to fill one of two vacancies at the Federal Communications Commission.

Chong, a 34-year-old Republican, would become the FCC’s first-ever Asian-American commissioner if confirmed by the Senate. She would replace Sherrie Marshall, whose GOP seat at the FCC has gone unfilled for nearly a year. Chong’s term would last through mid-1997.

In making the announcement, Clinton said he is “confident that (Chong’s) experience and commitment in the area of telecommunications will prove invaluable” at the FCC.

Chong called it a “great honor” to be picked for the FCC “at this historic time when the administration, Congress and the telecommunications industry are poised to radically restructure outdated laws and to build an exciting new national information superhighway.”

Chong has specialized in telecommunications law since joining the Bay Area law firm of Graham and James in 1987. Her clients have included CMT Partners, a cellular telephone joint venture between McCaw Cellular Communications and PacificTelesis, the regional Bell operating company. Prior to joining Graham and James, Chong practiced communications law before the FCC with the now-defunct law firm of Kadison, Pfaezler, Woodard, Quinn and Rossi.

An easy Senate confirmation of Chong is expected, in part because Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole (R-Kan.) has signed off on the nominee. Dole met with Chong late last year and notified the White House he would support her selection, according to sources.

Chong, a third-generation Chinese-American, graduated from UC Berkeley in 1981 with degrees in political science and journalism, and received her law degree from Hastings College in 1984.

Chong’s confirmation would leave the FCC with two Democrats (Chairman Reed Hundt and commissioner James Quello) and two Republicans (Chong and commish Andrew Barrett).

The White House is believed to have settled on Susan Ness, a Democrat, to fill the final FCC seat left vacant by the recent departure of Ervin Duggan. However, no official announcement has been made.

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