The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be deadlocked at four commissioners—at least for now.
Gigi Sohn, President Joe Biden’s nominee to fill out the FCC and a longtime internet rights advocate, told the White House she was withdrawing her nomination on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.
In a letter obtained by the Post, Sohn said the “unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks” she faced took a toll on her and her family.
“When I accepted his nomination over sixteen months ago, I could not have imagined that legions of cable and media industry lobbyists, their bought-and-paid-for surrogates, and dark money political groups with bottomless pockets would distort my over 30-year history as a consumer advocate into an absurd caricature of blatant lies,” she said.
During her nomination process, Sohn faced an onslaught of attacks from both sides of the aisle. First nominated in October 2021, Sohn was hit with vocal opposition from Republicans from the jump. She faced heavy lobbying efforts from telecom companies that attempted to stall her nomination and a six-figure ad campaign from a former Democrat who said she was the “wrong choice for America.”
The attacks worked.
Sohn’s nomination stalled, forcing her to be renominated in January. Even then, Republicans found new criticisms and grilled her over made-up tweets during her second confirmation hearing in February.
Now, she said the attacks were too much to handle.
“It is a sad day for our country and our democracy when dominant industries, with assistance from unlimited dark money, get to choose their regulators,” she said in the letter. “And with the help of their friends in the Senate, the powerful cable and media companies have done just that.”
Sohn said despite this being “the most consequential opportunity for broadband in our lifetimes” the FCC will remain deadlocked for “a long time.”
“Unfortunately, the American people are the real losers here,” she said. “This means that your broadband will be more expensive for lack of competition, minority, and underrepresented voices will be marginalized, and your private information will continue to be used and sold at the whim of your broadband provider.”
Sohn said high-priority initiatives like nondiscriminatory broadband access and fast internet for low-income and rural Americans are now unlikely to be adopted, but said she is hopeful Biden’s next nominee will mirror her interests.
“I hope the president swiftly nominates an individual who puts the American people first over all other interests. The country deserves nothing less,” she said.
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*First Published: Mar 7, 2023, 2:12 pm CST
Jacob Seitz is a freelance journalist originally from Columbus, Ohio, interested in the intersection of culture and politics.