Issa questions FCC commish’s switch

Letter probes timing of Attwell Baker's recruitment to Comcast

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is raising questions about FCC commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker’s plans to depart for Comcast just months after the approval of the cabler’s combination with NBCUniversal.

“This announcement has generated question surrounding the transition, especially in light of the recent FCC decisions related to her future employer,” Issa wrote in a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski. Issa’s office released a copy of the letter on Friday.

Issa added that based “on the public statements of both Commissioner Baker and the FCC, it does not appear she violated any of her legal or ethical obligations in accepting a position with Comcast. Nevertheless, because only a short time has passed since the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, it is imperative that the public can trust the integrity of the process.”

Issa has asked for answers to a series of questions, including when Baker notified the FCC General Counsel’s office that she was engaged in communications with Comcast over a possible job opportunity.

Baker announced earlier this month that she would depart the FCC just weeks before her term expires at the end of June. She’s joining Comcast’s Washington office to take a senior government affairs position leading NBCUniversal’s lobbying efforts.

“Not once in my entire tenure as a Commissioner had anyone at Comcast or NBCUniversal approached me about potential employment,” she said in a statement on May 13. “When this opportunity became available in mid-April, I made a personal decision that I wanted to give it serious consideration.”

In her statement, she said that she “immediately” sought counsel from the FCC’s general counsel, and recused herself on April 18 from any matters involving Comcast or NBCU. Baker was appointed in 2009.