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Deception and Distrust: The Federal Communications Commission Under Chairman Kevin J. Martin

December 9, 2008

Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell and Rep. Bart Stupak, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, released a report today entitled, “Deception and Distrust: The Federal Communications Commission Under Chairman Kevin J. Martin.” The report details findings of the Committee's bipartisan investigation relating to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Chairman Kevin Martin.

The Committee report documents “instances in which the Chairman manipulated, withheld, or suppressed data, reports and information.” One such instance was with regard to a la carte channel service – the report finds “Chairman Martin manipulated report findings and policy direction with regard to “a la carte” cable and satellite television service when he ordered that a report to Congress previously issued by the Commission be rewritten with a completely different outcome and issued as a “supplemental” report.” The committee obtained e-mails between FCC career economist Daniel Shiman, the lead report writer, and Catherine Bohigian, Chairman Martin’s Senior Legal Advisor:

FCC e-mail

Other findings:

Important Commission matters have not been handled in an open and transparent manner, thereby raising suspicions both inside and outside the Commission that some parties are not being treated fairly.

The Commission has failed to carry out some important responsibilities.

Chairman Martin’s heavy-handed, opaque, and non-collegial management style has created distrust, suspicion, and turmoil among the five current Commissioners.

Commission staff have not been efficiently managed.

Subcommittee Chairman Stupak on the report:

Our investigation confirmed a number of troubling allegations raised by individuals in and outside the FCC. The Committee staff report details some of the most egregious abuses of power, suppression of information and manipulation of data under Chairman Martin's leadership. It is my hope that this report will serve as a roadmap for a fair, open and efficient FCC under new leadership in the next administration.

Chairman Dingell:

Any of these findings, individually, are cause for concern. Together, the findings suggest that, in recent years, the FCC has operated in a dysfunctional manner and Commission business has suffered as a result. It is my hope that the new FCC Chairman will find this report instructive and that it will prove useful in helping the Commission avoid making the same mistakes.

Read the report (.pdf)>>