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Starks Tapped to Succeed Clyburn at FCC

Is longtime Democratic official

As expected, the White House has named FCC Enforcement Bureau official Geoffrey Starks to succeed Mignon Clyburn as FCC commissioner.

The White House has signaled its intention to nominate Starks to the seat currently held by Democrat Mignon Clyburn, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has confirmed.

This White House has hardly treated convention with kid gloves, but traditionally, at least since President Bill Clinton, the Democratic pick for the FCC comes from the Senate minority leader, which was the case here, with Starks the choice of Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Starks is currently in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, which is not a typical launching pad for a commission seat, like, say, a Hill communications counsel would be, though the most recent Republican addition, Brendan Carr, came directly from the FCC as well.

[Read: Attention Turns to Post-Clyburn Opening]

“I congratulate Geoffrey Starks on his forthcoming nomination to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission,” said Pai in a statement. “He has a distinguished record of public service, including in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, and I wish him all the best during the confirmation process.”

That will be a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee, then a vote in the full Senate.

“NAB strongly supports President Trump’s selection of Geoffrey Starks to a seat on the Federal Communications Commission,” said National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith. “We endorse his swift confirmation.”

Starks has an impressive Democratic resume.

He is currently assistant bureau chief at the FCC and is focused on “closing the digital divide by bringing more broadband to underserved communities; building transformational 5G infrastructure to help deliver the largest wireless platform for innovation in the world; and advancing broadband telemedicine programs to improve access to quality medical services and health outcomes.”

Starks has an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a law degree from Yale. He also founded a community bank.

Like FCC chairman Ajit Pai, he grew up in Kansas, though the city rather than a small town.

His wife, Lauren Thompson Starks, is a former Obama appointee. Starks is also a former staffer to then Sen. Barack Obama and a former attorney with Williams & Connolly in Washington.

His Obama-era government service includes serving under Attorney General Eric Holder at Justice, including as the lead on financial and healthcare fraud.

A measured Commissioner Michael O’Rielly welcomed a commissioner likely to disagree with him on some major issues. “I congratulate Geoffrey Starks on his selection by the administration for this key role at such an exciting time in communications policy,” said O’Rielly. “While I haven’t had a great deal of interactions with Mr. Starks, I know he will bring a new voice to important debates before the commission. I look forward to getting to know him and working beside him in this new capacity, pending consideration of the nomination by the U.S. Senate.”

“ACA congratulates Geoffrey Starks on his nomination to serve on the Federal Communications Commission, an agency he knows well from his current service as assistant bureau chief in the Enforcement Bureau,” said American Cable Association President Matt Polka. “We look forward to working with Mr. Starks following his confirmation by the U.S. Senate, which we hope will occur promptly.”

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