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Sorry to See Baker Leave the Portals

She understands business

I’m sorry to see that Meredith Baker is leaving the commission two years into what is normally a five-year stint.

I’ve got no problem with Baker leaving the agency to become chief lobbyist for NBCUniversal. Under new lobbying rules, she’ll be barred from lobbying her former commission colleagues for two years, but can start cajoling and persuading members of Congress immediately.

Before she went into public service seven years ago, the politically-connected Baker was a telecom attorney and cell industry lobbyist. It’s useful for an FCC commissioner to understand how business works, and Baker does.

Before she came to the Portals she was acting administrator of NTIA; she was also in charge of the set-top box coupon program for TV’s digital transition.

But at the FCC, she’s been part of a Republican minority in a 3–2 Democratic-controlled commission; her ideas, no matter how good they are, won’t get the attention from within the agency or the public that the chairman’s would. That must have been frustrating.

I’ll miss her personally. She’s smart and very well-spoken.

And of all the commissioners I’ve met and covered over the years, she has the best fashion sense. You don’t often see a bureaucrat sporting peep-toe leopard print pumps with a basic Washington-wonk suit.

— Leslie Stimson