Pai Calls Past Handling of Consent Decrees “Abuse of Process”
New chairman changes another commission procedure
New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai doesn’t
like the way the commission’s Enforcement Bureau has handled consent decrees. So:
“That abuse of process ends now,” he said.
Some process changes
are more notable than others; Pai calls this one important.
of the ways in which the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau resolves an investigation is
by entering into a consent decree, in which the party being investigated agrees
to comply with certain terms in exchange for the government closing its
inquiry,” Pai wrote in his latest statement, one of several about commission
processes issued since he took over the chairmanship.
over the past few years, in cases in which the full commission has previously
voted to propose and/or impose a forfeiture, such consent decrees have
generally not been presented to the commissioners for a vote. Instead,
they have simply been signed by the chief of the Enforcement Bureau at the
direction of the chairman’s office.” Many times, he said, commissioners had
little notice of such consent decrees before they were released publicly.
says that if commissioners vote to propose and/or impose a forfeiture, the
Enforcement Bureau should not settle that matter without their approval.
I have instructed the Enforcement Bureau that starting today, any consent
decree settling a Notice of Apparent Liability or Forfeiture Order issued by
the full commission must now be approved by a vote of the full
commission. This will help promote commissioners’ involvement in and
accountability for important enforcement decisions.”
He said the
change takes effect now, in fact with a consent decree being circulated today,
one that would “conclude an important investigation previously approved by the
full commission.” He didn’t say which one.
Travis LeBlanc is
chief of the Enforcement Bureau.
Receive regular news and technology updates. Sign up for our free newsletter here.