A number of parties welcomed President Trump’s announcement that he has nominated Geoffrey Starks as a Democratic FCC Commissioner to a term that would expire on June 30, 2022. Mr. Starks was nominated to the seat being vacated by Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn, who announced in April (TR Daily, April 17) that she planned to leave the agency but has yet to depart.
The White House announced Mr. Starks’ planned nomination late Friday, and today it announced the nomination has been sent to the Senate. Mr. Starks did not respond to a request for comment today from TR Daily.
If he is confirmed, it would leave the FCC without a former state commissioner, which Ms. Clyburn is, although there have been gaps between previous former state commissioners on the FCC.
Mr. Starks is an assistant chief in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, where he works with the Investigations & Hearings Division and the USF Strike Force. He joined the agency in 2015.
From 2013 to 2015, he was senior counsel to the deputy attorney general at the Justice Department. From 2010 to 2013, Mr. Starks was an associate at Williams & Connolly LLP. In 2008 and 2009, he served as a clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (St. Louis). Mr. Starks earned an A.B. in social studies magna cum laude from Harvard College and a law degree from the Yale Law School.
Sources have said that Congressional Black Caucus members and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) backed Mr. Starks, who is black, for the Commission seat (TR Daily, March 9). Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee ranking minority member Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) supported the committee’s senior minority counsel, John Branscome, a former FCC staffer, for the Democratic seat on the FCC.
A spokesman for Sen. Nelson did not respond to a request for comment today, and the Congressional Black Caucus did not have any immediate comment.
Ms. Clyburn and Mr. Starks’ future colleagues, if he is confirmed by the Senate, welcomed Mr. Trump’s announcement.
“I congratulate Geoffrey Starks on his nomination to become the next FCC Commissioner,” said Ms. Clyburn, whose office did not respond to questions from TR Daily today about when she plans to leave the Commission. “He is a sharp communications attorney committed to public service. I wish him all the best during the confirmation process.”
“I congratulate Geoffrey Starks on his forthcoming nomination to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission. He has a distinguished record of public service, including in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, and I wish him all the best during the confirmation process,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.
“I congratulate Geoffrey Starks on his selection by the Administration for this key role at such an exciting time in communications policy,” Commissioner Mike O’Rielly said. “While I haven’t had a great deal of interactions with Mr. Starks, I know he will bring a new voice to important debates before the Commission. I look forward to getting to know him and working beside him in this new capacity, pending consideration of the nomination by the U.S. Senate.”
“Congratulations to Geoffrey Starks on the announcement of his forthcoming nomination to serve as Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission,” said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. “He will be a welcome addition. I look forward to working with him to advance the public interest and ensure that everyone has access to modern communications and a fair shot at 21st century success. In the meantime, I wish him a speedy confirmation.”
“I want to extend my congratulations to Geoffrey Starks on his nomination by the White House to serve on the Commission,” Commissioner Brendan Carr said. “Mr. Starks’ career evidences a longstanding commitment to public service, including at both the Department of Justice and as a staffer in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. I would welcome the chance to work together on policies that will protect consumers and promote the interests of all Americans.”
Travis LeBlanc, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP who hired Mr. Starks at the Commission when he was chief of the Enforcement Bureau, told TR Daily today that he was a great choice for Commissioner.
“He is committed to ensuring that consumers have access to essential telecommunications services,” Mr. LeBlanc said. He added that Mr. Starks also supports net neutrality and would vote the same way Commissioner Clyburn and Rosenworcel have on the issue.
Jonathan Spalter, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Telecom Association, said, “We congratulate Geoffrey Starks on his nomination as an FCC Commissioner. His record of public service — in the agency’s Enforcement Bureau and at the Department of Justice — and his deep expertise in communications policy are just the right ingredients for a distinguished tenure as a Commissioner. I urge the Senate to confirm him quickly, and all of us at USTelecom look forward to working closely with him.”
CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said, “CTIA and the wireless industry congratulate Geoffrey Starks on his nomination as an FCC Commissioner and applaud his public service commitment at the FCC and Department of Justice. We look forward to his quick confirmation and to working with him to ensure that U.S. consumers continue to benefit from world-leading wireless services.”
"ACA congratulates Geoffrey Starks on his nomination to serve on the Federal Communications Commission, an agency he knows well from his current service as Assistant Bureau Chief in the Enforcement Bureau,” said Matthew Polka, president and CEO of the American Cable Association. “We look forward to working with Mr. Starks following his confirmation by the U.S. Senate, which we hope will occur promptly.”
NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield said that “NTCA congratulates Geoffrey Starks on his nomination to serve as FCC Commissioner. His experience at the FCC and clear, long-standing commitment to public service will suit him well in tackling the range of important issues faced by the agency. NTCA and its membership look forward to working with Mr. Starks once he’s confirmed to continue responding to consumer needs and advancing our nation’s broadband goals.”
“We congratulate Geoffrey Starks on being nominated to the @FCC. He has big shoes to fill with @MClyburnFCC's departure, and we support his swift confirmation!” tweeted the Competitive Carriers Association.
“Congratulations Geoffrey Starks on the well-deserved nomination to be the next Commissioner to the FCC. We look forward to working closely with you to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband,” Frontier Communications Corp. said in a tweet.
Claude Aiken, president and CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, said, “I had the privilege of working with Geoffrey during my time at the FCC, and I can vouch for his intelligence, openness, fairness, common sense, and integrity. All of us at WISPA look forward to working with him to leverage the unique advantages of fixed wireless technology to close the digital divide in rural America and promote competition and innovation for the benefit of consumers everywhere.”
Chip Pickering, CEO of Incompas, said, that his group “congratulates Geoffrey Starks on his impending nomination to the FCC. His distinguished career shows a dedication to public service that will be an asset to the Commission. We look forward to working with him to ensure competition remains the driving force behind innovation policy that brings consumer benefits."
“NAB strongly supports President Trump’s selection of Geoffrey Starks to a seat on the Federal Communications Commission. We endorse his swift confirmation,” said National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Gordon Smith.
“We are pleased to see that the Administration is moving forward to fill Commissioner Clyburn’s seat and we look forward to having a full complement of FCC commissioners in the near future,” said the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. —Paul Kirby, [email protected]
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