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Comcast taps FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker for D.C. office

Cable giant Comcast Corp. has hired Federal Communications Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker as senior vice president of government affairs for its NBCUniversal unit.

Baker Baker, who will resign from the FCC, is the latest hire for Comcast, which has been beefing up its already formidible lobbying team since taking over NBCUniversal. Earlier this year, Comcast wooed National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. President Kyle McSlarrow away from the association to be president of Comcast/NBCUniversal Washington.

“Commissioner Baker is one of the nation’s leading authorities on communications policy and we’re thrilled she’s agreed to head the government relations operations for NBCUniversal," McSlarrow said in a statement.

A Republican who served as a commissioner for a little less than two years, Baker's hire so soon after voting in favor of Comcast's deal to acquire majority control of NBCUniversal from General Electric Co. raised eyebrows among some media watchdogs.

"This is just the latest -- though perhaps most blatant -- example of a so-called public servant cashing in at a company she is supposed to be regulating," said Craig Aaron, president and chief executive of Free Press, a nonprofit media reform organization.

Not everyone took such a hardline.

“Commissioner Baker has been a consummate public servant," said Media Access Project policy director Andrew Schwartzman. "While her viewpoints have often differed from ours, she has always been open-minded, conscientious and dedicated to acting in the public interest as she saw it.”

As for her move to Comcast, Schwartzman said in an email that he is "unhappy in a generic sense that the door revolves in Washington," but "this one is no different, and no worse, than what happens all the time."

It is not uncommon for government officials to end up working for companies that they used to regulate. Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, for example, recently succeeded McSlarrow as head of the NCTA. Dick Wiley, an FCC chairman in the 1970s, went on to become one of the most powerful communications lawyers for the media and telecom industries in Washington, D.C. There will be some restrictions on Baker's lobbying activities with Comcast and her old FCC bosses and other administration officials.

Before her appointment to the FCC by President Obama, Baker was acting assistant secretary of Commerce for communications and information, and acting administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration under President George W. Bush.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Meredith Attwell Baker. Credit: Federal Communications Commission.

Comments () | Archives (7)

I didn't have to read this post to know she was a Republican, only a Republican would have no shame over this.

Hey Comcast! Why buy the cow when the milk was free?

It doesn't matter what party - what we have is government by lobbyists. They're the only ones who can get things done.

The FCC has been corrupt ever since the first Spectrum Auction. Powell was a joke...blame Congress and lobbyists...Yes under Obama we still have the best goverment money can buy. Props to Al Franken for asking the right questions in the current hearings on the proposed ATT & T-Mobil Merger

The people in charge view this notice as all the proof needed to carry on with bidness as usual this is transparency in the world of crony capitalism. It does not matter the party these practices are standard in this society of social climbers.

If there is a smell test, this one certainly doesn't pass it. Something smells really rotten here. How can she, in good conscience, vote on one of the biggest media mergers in history, and then take a high paying job (as her likely payoff) from the company seeking the merger? This really destroys a citizen's faith in our government's ability to properly regulate out of control corporate interests. No doubt about it, the corporations control our country, even the Supreme Court. New laws are required to prevent this behaviour and punish it both civilly and criminally, but with corporations basically controlling the Republican party and to a large extent also controlling the Democratic party , these laws will never see the light of day. There is no level playing field. Yet another example of how easily government officials are bought and paid for. Money rules.

Aren't there jail cells for people like this? A major breach of even the slimiest ethical standards


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