FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was honored by the National Rifle Association with a handmade Kentucky long gun as part of its Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award to mark his efforts to repeal most of the FCC’s net neutrality rules.
Pai was given the honor during an appearance on Friday before the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he appeared on a panel along with fellow FCC Republicans Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr.
Carolyn Meadows, a second vice president of the NRA, said that the award is for someone who has “stood up under pressure with grace and dignity and principled discipline.” She noted that the award is not given every year, but Rush Limbaugh, Phyllis Schlafly, Vice President Mike Pence, Sheriff David Clarke and Roy Innis were past recipients.
“We cannot bring it on stage,” she said, adding that it will be “housed in our museum with a plaque to you. When you can receive it we will give it to you…You will love it.”
Pai thanked her for the honor.
FCC spokesman Brian Hart said, “The CPAC award was a surprise and the chairman was honored. The presenters announced onstage that they will keep the award at their museum.” Ethics rules may prevent Pai from accepting the award while he holds the public post.
Dan Schneider, the executive director of the American Conservative Union, called Pai the “most courageous, heroic person that I know.” He noted that he and his family had received “countless threats” as the repeal vote approached and that his “property has been invaded by the George Soros crowd.” Pai said that his family were harassed and received threats, and signs were placed near his home.
In a December party line vote, the FCC repealed most of the agency’s net neutrality rules, which prohibit internet providers from blocking or throttling online traffic, or from selling “fast lanes” to sites to give them speedier access to consumers. At the CPAC event, Pai said that the rules were stifling to internet freedom and choked investment. The FCC also repealed its classification of internet service as a title II “common carrier,” akin to that given to a utility.
The FCC left in place rules that require internet providers to disclose how they handle web traffic.
The FCC’s net neutrality order was published in the Federal Register, with an effective date of April 23. A number of groups, including nearly two dozen state attorneys general, are seeking to challenge the FCC’s repeal in court. The publication also triggers a timeline for Congress to vote to restore the previous rules. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is leading the effort to pass such a measure via the Congressional Review Act, and Democrats say they are just one vote shy of the 51 needed for passage in the Senate. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have 60 legislative days to act.
The NRA’s CEO, Wayne LaPierre, addressed the CPAC crowd on Thursday, and bashed the media for its coverage of gun violence. Dana Loesch, a spokeswoman for the group, also criticized coverage, telling the CPAC audience that “many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it. Now I’m not saying that you love the tragedy but I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media in the back.” She was referring to reporters and news crews covering the event.