Republicans Clash With Biden FCC Pick Gigi Sohn Over ‘Truly Stunning’ Inconsistencies, Alleged Conflicts Of Interest

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Senate Commerce Committee holds hearing for FCC nominee Gigi Sohn

Republican members of the Senate Commerce Committee clashed with Gigi Sohn, President Joe Biden’s pick for an empty spot on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), at a hearing Wednesday, questioning inconsistencies in her testimony and previous conflicts.

The hearing was Sohn’s second before the committee, and was convened following lingering concerns over a settlement agreement struck by a streaming service on whose board Sohn previously served and broadcasters with whom Sohn will be tasked with regulating if confirmed.

Sohn was one of three directors of Locast, an online streaming service that retransmitted local television broadcasts. The company was shut down in October after broadcasters sued and a judge ruled the service was violating copyright law; Locast resolved the matter by entering into a settlement agreement with broadcasters requiring the service to pay $32 million in damages.

  • Republican members of the Senate Commerce Committee clashed with Gigi Sohn, President Joe Biden’s pick to an empty spot on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), at a hearing Wednesday, questioning inconsistencies in her testimony and previous conflicts.
  • Sohn’s claim that the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) failed to support her nomination to the FCC was questioned by Republican Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, who pointed to a statement NAB issued following Sohn’s decision to voluntarily recuse herself from matters related to the Locast settlement.
  • Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn took issue with Sohn’s affiliation with left-wing activist groups Free Press and Fight For the Future (FFTF), the latter of which called for Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Sen. Maria Cantwell to be removed from leadership due to delays in Sohn’s confirmation process.
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However, one day after Sohn was nominated, Locast struck another confidential agreement with broadcasters lowering the damages the service was required to pay to roughly $700,000. Sohn did not disclose this fact in her previous hearing on Dec. 1, saying in her testimony Wednesday that the terms of the confidential agreement prevented her from discussing specifics with the Senate.

This claim was disputed by several Republicans, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who read from a copy of the settlement agreement which appeared to show it only barred Sohn from discussing specifics with the press, and not Congress.

“There’s nothing in this agreement that prohibits you from disclosing it to the Senate,” Cruz said, calling the agreement “truly stunning and disturbing.”

“You did not disclose it to the Senate,” Cruz added. “Let me ask you this. Did you disclose it to the White House?”

Sohn answered that she did not.

Republican Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker questioned Sohn’s claim that the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) failed to support Sohn’s nomination to the FCC, pointing to a statement NAB issued following Sohn’s decision to voluntarily recuse herself from matters related to the Locast settlement.


“Ms. Sohn’s recusal agreement resolves the concerns NAB raised regarding her nomination,” NAB said in a Jan. 27 statement shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation. “NAB appreciates Ms. Sohn’s willingness to seriously consider our issues regarding retransmission consent and broadcast copyright, and to address those concerns in her recusal. We look forward to the Senate moving forward with Ms. Sohn’s confirmation and are eager to work with her and the full complement of commissioners in the very near future.”

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Sohn responded that she had discussed the matter with NAB executive Curtis LeGeyt, and the group was remaining neutral in regards to her nomination.

Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn took issue with Sohn’s affiliation with left-wing activist groups Free Press and Fight For the Future (FFTF), the latter of which called for Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Sen. Maria Cantwell to be removed from leadership due to delays in Sohn’s confirmation process.

“It is of concern to me, because you have tweeted support for these groups. You have made donations to these groups, and then you have been a public interest advocate for the issues; you share the sentiment that these groups are pushing forward because you have advocated for that,” Blackburn said.

“We’re all affiliated with organizations that do things we don’t like,” Sohn responded, saying she has expressed her opposition to the groups’ tactics.

A vote on Sohn’s nomination will likely be held up due to the absence of Democratic New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, who suffered a stroke earlier in February.

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