The revolving door in Washington, DC, allows lobbyists to become regulators and vice versa, and there may be no better example than the Federal Communications Commission.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler (a Democrat) is the former CEO of the cable industry’s top lobbying group, while the current head of the cable lobby—Republican Michael Powell—used to be the FCC chairman. Though they have held the same jobs, Wheeler and Powell are at odds over how to regulate Internet service, with Powell, as CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), leading the charge against his former agency.
More than a decade ago, Powell as FCC chairman ensured that broadband providers would not be regulated as common carriers, a decision that Wheeler essentially reversed this year when the FCC reclassified broadband as common carriage in order to impose net neutrality rules. Wheeler, CEO of the NCTA from 1979 to 1984 and of the CTIA Wireless Association from 1992 to 2004, went against his former employers’ wishes.
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