An update to a previous post: Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet, blasted the FCC’s general counsel today for allowing commissioner Robert McDowell to vote on the AT&T/Bell South merger. McDowell had recused himself from voting on the pact because he had repped a group that opposed the merger. That left the commission deadlocked, and chairman Kevin Martin sought an opinion from FCC’s legal wonks to clear the way and break the logjam.
McDowell still hasn’t said whether he will vote on the merger, even with the lawyerly blessings, but Markey suggested that he still sit out the vote.
“The FCC General Counsel’s response highlights that there is no direct of persuasive precedent for ‘un-recusing’ Commissioner McDowell. I trust that Commissioner McDowell will find the FCC General Counsel’s weak legal arguments, and even weaker rationale for a compelling government interest, of little comfort when deciding whether to abandon the ethical high ground upon which he currently stands.”
Fellow Democrat John Dingell (D-Mich.), expected to be chairman of the Commerce Committee, also criticized the general counsel’s decision, charging that a government ethics official has said that McDowell should not vote.