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Fate of FCC nominee Gigi Sohn — and ‘net neutrality’ — may rely on Georgia runoff

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Prospects for Gigi Sohn — a controversial nominee to hitch the Federal Communications Commission who’s a significant proponent of restoring so-called “net neutrality” rules that used to control the web — may hinge on the final result of the Georgia Senate runoff, sources told On The Money.

Sohn — a progressive activist who has drawn skepticism from Republicans as she has signaled support of “defund the police” movements and co-founded an advocacy group funded by billionaire ­George ­Soros — is more prone to get a vote for her nomination if Democrat Rafael Warnock wins the Tuesday runoff for Georgia’s US Senate seat, insiders said. Likewise, Sohn’s candidacy may never come to a vote if his opponent Herschel Walker wins the runoff.

A Warnock win would give Democrats a 51-to-49 Senate majority. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is the one Democrat who still doesn’t support nominee Gigi Sohn and the additional vote will mean the Republicans cannot stop the nomination as she would get through in a tie, sources said.

Biden must get a nomination vote held this month. Otherwise, Biden would need to nominate Sohn again and she would wish to undergo the total nomination process, which incorporates Senate hearings, sources said.

Next yr Biden, who announced his intention to nominate Sohn in October 2021, could more easily nominate one other candidate. There are rumors that might be Stacey Abrams who just lost a race to be Georgia’s governor.

There are actually 4 FCC Commissioners — two Democrats and two Republicans — giving Democrats limited power.

Georgetown law professor Sohn helped craft net neutrality rules pushed throughout the Obama years that were supported by a lot of the largest Silicon Valley tech giants including Amazon and Netflix.

Sohn can be expected to assist restore full net neutrality — which might bar web providers, often owned by cable corporations — from discriminating against rival streaming corporations — after its rollback throughout the Trump years.

Comcast is reportedly a giant opponent of Sohn’s nomination. 

President Biden may find it easier to maneuver on from Sohn if Walker wins Tuesday, making it a 50/50 Senate.Getty Images

The Post has reported that Sohn was a director at start-up company Locast which provided free access to broadcast stations including ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and took donations. Locast lost a suit and was forced to settle with the largest networks for not more than $32 million.

Allegedly the networks gave Locast a sweetheart deal on the settlement payment when it became clear Sohn was being nominated to be an FCC commissioner, agreeing to a final number that was under $1 million.

Sohn was a Locast director and never a part of the settlement talks, The Post also reported.

Dozens of groups including Public Knowledge and Common Cause on Oct. 14 wrote a letter to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asking for them to bring her nomination to a vote.

“Her work with industry and members of Congress in developing programs which support low-income Americans including those in rural and tribal lands, is an example of her commitment to work with all sides to reach at commonsense solutions,” the letter said.

 

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