In case you haven’t seen, Obama plans to nominate Mignon Clyburn for FCC Commissioner (she would be third Democratic seat – there are 5 total). Name sound familiar? It should – she’s Jim Clyburn’s daughter. He’s the House Majority Whip from South Carolina.
Sound fishy yet? It should. In fact, it’s a baffling, frustrating nomination.
I obviously don’t know anything about her yet (which is part of the problem), but early indications are not good. In fact, the nomination seems to signal that the administration isn’t all that concerned about getting telecom right and fighting for openness.
Here’s what we do know. Clyburn serves on the South Carolina public service commission (which is considered very pro-Bell). She is virtually unknown by knowledgeable telecom people. And, she seems to have focused more on energy issues than telecom, if early accounts are to be believed. Plus, Verizon and the cable trade association are very happy. All in all, not good.
But maybe she’ll be great – who knows? The point, though, is that this is a very risky gamble. She’s an unknown. Her father voted against net neutrality and in favor of telecom immunity (suggesting home-state political ties with Bells). There’s simply too much at stake – and the opportunities are too ripe – to gamble with the third Democratic seat in this way.
What’s especially frustrating though is that nepotism seemed to play a much larger role here than policy concerns. Even if she turns out to be great, we have no way of knowing that now.
It also shows apathy on Obama's part. That was the whole problem with Michael Brown at FEMA, and Harriet Miers on the Court. Their nominations signaled that the administration didn’t really care about those issues, and was therefore content to hand them over to cronies.
I expected more from Obama. More on this to come as I learn more. And by all means, if we have any South Carolina readers who know anything, please pass it along.