Biden FCC nominee Gigi Sohn had her third confirmation hearing Tuesday, Feb. 14. First nominated 15 months ago to fill the long-vacant fifth seat of the Federal Communications Commission, the self-proclaimed defender of free speech barely advanced through her last committee hearing with a 14-14 tie only to see her champions in the Democratic Party fail to muster enough votes in the full Senate. So, what has held the one-time top aide to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler back from being confirmed thus far? Bigotry and greed, according to the left. But could it be her greatest hurdle is, in fact, her own very public history of political activism – with just a little corruption scandal tossed in for good measure?
Gigi Sohn – A Hero to the Downtrodden?
“Ms. Sohn has a history of putting the public interest first, regardless of whether that means supporting policies endorsed by Republicans or Democrats,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said in a Tuesday press release. “Although she has been before our committee, she has now been criticized for important policies like standing up for free speech,” the statement also declared. Sen. Cantwell went on to say that these “personal attacks” are just meant to distract from the fact that Sohn is “immensely qualified” for the position.
“And if confirmed she would be the first openly gay commissioner of the FCC.”
That last line stands apart for its significance to the Democrat argument in Ms. Sohn’s defense: Republicans just hate her for being gay. “Gigi’s nomination has recently come under attack, not on the basis of qualifications or substance, but because she is openly LGBTQ+,” declares a letter to the Senate signed by GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the Victory Institute, and over a dozen other activist organizations. “We call upon every member of the Senate to condemn homophobia and sexism and consider Gigi’s nomination on its merits.”
A noble endeavor, indeed.
But, of course, such an examination of the merits of her nomination – and her own much touted history – are precisely what her GOP opposition presented. To quote Charles Moran, writing for Fox News, “Gigi Sohn’s FCC nomination is in trouble because of her radical views, being gay has nothing to do with it.” Moran is president of the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s “largest Republican organization dedicated to representing LGBT conservatives and allies.” The organization tweeted Tuesday that members strongly urge the Senate to vote no on Biden FCC nominee Gigi Sohn. “Simply being LGBT is not a qualification and to suggest otherwise would be an insult to … LGBT people in various industries across the country,” the post continued.
It’s Never Their Fault …
Moran went on to lay out the “merits” of Sohn’s past. She openly floated the idea of censoring conservative media networks, even calling for a Senate hearing on the negative impact that “state-sponsored propaganda” from Fox News has on Democracy. She also supported a group that called to defund the police and called law enforcement a form of white supremacy.
Sohn was also court ordered to pay a $32 million settlement – later reduced to $700,000 just a day after her nomination – after an app she was involved in called Locast was found to have captured and retransmitted broadcast signals without permission.
Perhaps nothing sums up the issues with Gigi Sohn as a potential commissioner for the FCC quite like Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) line of questioning during the Valentine’s Day hearing. As the Texas senator pointed out, Sohn didn’t disclose to the committee or the White House that the “$32 million settlement” was, in fact, just $700,000. When asked if she thought it was a poor decision, she said it was not, and that she didn’t believe she misled the committee. Cruz followed up by showing quotes from the previous hearing, in which he had asked her if she had disclosed the agreement to the committee three times, with her answer each time being, “I did.” The fourth time was worded differently, explicitly asking about the $700,000 deal. “No,” she finally replied. “So three times you say ‘I did,’ and then, oh, no, you did not,” Cruz said. “You misled this committee, and you also misled the White House.”
Furthermore, despite claims that her confirmation had been held up, at least in part, by dark money from corporate giants who don’t want a functioning FCC, Sohn contributed to a dozen Democrat senators running for re-election while an active nominee awaiting Senate confirmation. She also has actively supported – meaning she has both contributed to them financially and advocated for them on Twitter – Fight for the Future, an activist group that has run billboards calling several Democrat senators corrupt and even going so far as to call for Sen. Cantwell’s removal as chair of the committee. Finally, Cruz showed a copy of Sohn’s retweet of Fight for the Future’s protest against Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) in which they accused his donors of trying to buy a senator. She retweeted their post and added her own two cents: “Well done!”
“If they were trying to buy a senator, were you trying to buy senators when you made a dozen contributions?” he asked. The true answer to that question may be just as damning to Ms. Sohn’s chances of confirmation as championing censorship for conservative news or backing groups that declare policing a form of white supremacy and call for defunding law enforcement.
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