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FCC has a nonpartisan partisan tradition

By Laurie Bennett

September 4, 2012 at 10:10am

The revolving door phenomenon in Washington has so many shades of gray.

There’s the appearance of conflict of interest, actual conflict, and a tradition of political and family appointments so widespread that the first two are almost taken for granted.

The Federal Communications Commission falls in the third category.

It’s not a partisan problem. Both parties, as the Muckety map above demonstrates, have used the commission to pay off political debts.

Meredith Attwell Baker
Meredith Attwell Baker

And in an age where merger approvals and regulatory oversight can translate into multimillionaire profit or loss, media companies have been quick to snap up commissioners when they leave government.

Susan Ness, a bundler for Obama this year and for Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008, is a director of Gannett, publisher of community newspapers and USA Today and owner of 23 television stations.

Michael Powell, son of former Secretary of State and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell, heads the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Meredith Baker is a senior vice president of NBCUniversal. Baker, whom we’ve written about before, is married to James Baker IV, son of James Baker III, former secretary of state and the treasury.

It’s noteworthy that two people in the map helped determine the outcome of presidential elections - Colin Powell, in endorsing Barack Obama in 2008, and Jim Baker, in his successful representation of George W. Bush after the 2000 election.

Makes us wonder what the future holds for Ness…

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