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Clyburn May Be New FCC Commissioner

An experienced utility regulator and publisher, she's also an African-American and daughter of a powerful Democrat

It sounds we have another Democrat to join presumptive chair Julius Genachowski and Acting Chair Michael Copps at the FCC.

President Obama has announced he intends to nominate Mignon Clyburn to the commission.

Clyburn is a South Carolina public service commissioner and the daughter of one of the most powerful members of Congress, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C. If confirmed, she would fill the Democratic seat being vacated by Jonathan Adelstein, who’s headed to the Rural Utilities Service in the Agriculture Department to help roll out broadband.

Clyburn is in her eleventh year on the PSC, which essentially functions as a court for cases involving utilities and other regulated companies. The Public Service Commission has jurisdiction over “investor-owned electric and gas utility companies; water and wastewater companies, telecommunications companies, motor carriers of household goods, hazardous waste disposal, and taxicabs,” according to its Web site.

For 14 years prior to her PSC job, Clyburn was publisher and general manager of the now-defunct “The Coastal Times,” an African-American weekly in Charleston, S.C. She graduated in 1984 from the University of South Carolina with a B.S. in Banking, Finance and Economics.

Publishing experience should serve her well handling media-related issues at the commission, according to NAB President/CEO David Rehr in reaction to the news. The commission’s sole Republican, Commissioner Robert McDowell, welcomed her involvement, according to a statement.

If confirmed by the Senate, Clyburn would be the first African-American woman to serve as an FCC commissioner, at least in my experience covering the agency since the Reed Hundt days.