House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D., N.J.) and communications and technology subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D., Pa.) asked FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today to provide information to determine whether the FCC attempted to “game” the judicial lottery system related to appeals of the small cell order adopted by the Commission last year (TR Daily, Sept. 26, 2018).
“It has come to our attention that certain individuals at the FCC may have urged companies to challenge the Order the Commission adopted in order to game the judicial lottery procedure and intimated the agency would look unfavorably towards entities that were not helpful,” the Democrats wrote in their letter. “If true, it would be inappropriate for the FCC to leverage its power as a regulator to influence regulated companies to further its agenda in seeking a more friendly court.”
The lawmakers asked Mr. Pai whether the Commission had communications with any FCC licensees concerning legal challenges of the order, including whether the agency urged such challenges.
“To the extent that an FCC licensee refused to challenge the Order, has any person at the FCC and/or FCC employee threatened or taken adverse action against such FCC licensee, including but not limited to delaying consideration of items or issue of interest to such person?” the lawmakers asked.
They asked for the information “within three weeks of the FCC receiving normal operational funding …”
The small cell order is being challenged by scores of localities and municipal groups in separate appeals as well as by carriers AT&T, Inc., Verizon Communications, Inc., Sprint Corp., and Puerto Rico Telephone Company. The carrier appeals were filed in four separate circuits.
A number of appeals were transferred to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Denver) before being transferred to the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco) at the request of localities. —Paul Kirby, [email protected]
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