As Inside Towers reported yesterday, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn surprised her colleagues and announced her intention to leave the agency. Her departure has been rumored for months, as the senior Democratic Commissioner clashed with Chairman Ajit Pai over several high-profile issues.
After yesterday’s monthly public agency meeting ended, Clyburn said it would be her last. She called her eight years at the Commission “an incredible opportunity.”
“In my wildest dreams, if I could have crafted my destiny, I never would have dreamed of this,” said Clyburn. “I’ve done my very best and met the most incredible people on the planet in this building. I’ve had the opportunity to make a difference to people who did not believe government was here to serve. So I want to thank all of you for making that possible and more.”
Fellow Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said “Wow,” and called Clyburn a “dynamo.” She called Clyburn “someone who has been my partner in the public interest, someone I am proud to call a colleague and a friend. I want you to know that the things you care about, the fights you fought, and the legacy you leave – I consider it a duty of all of us to make sure it stays intact.”
Commissioner Michael O’Rielly thanked Clyburn for her public service, noting that while they didn’t always agree on an issue, he appreciated her willingness to have an open dialog.
Chairman Ajit Pai cited that in her eight-year tenure, Clyburn was the first woman to chair the agency when she became Acting Chair in 2013. “You led with distinction and served with honor, and as Commissioner O’Rielly said, even when we haven’t agreed, you’ve always been willing to come to the table to see if we could reach common ground. I think that your legacy is a very rich one that will serve commissioners for years to come. You exemplify what a public servant is meant to be.”
Clyburn, an Obama nominee, was a consistent advocate for low-income, minority and other marginalized communities. Though she voted for all of the items at yesterday’s meeting, she disagreed with the agency’s Monday settlement with T-Mobile on rural call completion violations. Clyburn called the settlement negotiated by the Chairman’s Office “severely mismatched.” The $40 million to be paid by the carrier, “is dwarfed by larger, unpaid fines recently proposed against individual robocallers… and the compliance plan does not contain any concessions that would explain such a massive discount,” said Clyburn. She also noted nothing in the decision compensated consumers, such as refunds or discounts.
Clyburn did not name an end date and said her future plans are not set. Politico recently reported that the White House would soon nominate Geoffrey Starks, assistant chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, for Clyburn’s seat.
By Leslie Stimson, Washington Bureau Chief, Inside Towers
April 18, 2018