President Joe Biden’s pick to run the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) withdrew her name from consideration Tuesday, the White House confirmed.
Gigi Sohn, whom the White House first nominated in October 2021, said her decision came in response to “unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks” from cable and media industry lobbyists, the Washington Post first reported.
Sohn ruffled feathers with her past social media posts and views on certain key issues that prevented the Senate from ever holding a floor vote on her confirmation. During the Obama administration, Sohn was one of the chief architects of net neutrality, a cornerstone of progressive telecom policy, which was reversed by the free-market types who ran the FCC under former President Donald Trump.
Sohn said the attacks on her took an “enormous toll” on her and her family.
“As someone who has advocated for my entire career for affordable, accessible broadband for every American, it is ironic that the 2-2 FCC will remain sidelined at the most consequential opportunity for broadband in our lifetimes,” Sohn said in a statement. “This means that your broadband will be more expensive for lack of competition, minority and underrepresented voices will be marginalized, and your private information will continue to be used and sold at the whim of your broadband provider.”
The commission currently comprises two Republican and two Democrat members, which means it can’t green-light any regulatory rules that do not have bipartisan support. Sohn would have been the tie-breaking vote if she had been confirmed.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said earlier Tuesday that he would not support Sohn’s confirmation because her record demonstrated her inability to steer the agency in a non-partisan direction.
“Especially now, the FCC must remain above the toxic partisanship that Americans are sick and tired of, and Ms. Sohn has clearly shown she is not the person to do that,” Manchin said. “For those reasons, I cannot support her nomination to the FCC, and I urge the Biden administration to put forth a nominee who can bring us together, not drive us apart.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called the withdrawal of Sohn’s nomination “a major victory [that] represents a strong bipartisan agreement that we need a fair and impartial candidate who can receive the support needed for confirmation.”
“The FCC is not the place for partisan activists; free speech is too important,” Cruz said. “Now, it’s time for the Biden administration to put forth a nominee who can be confirmed by the full Senate and is committed to serving as an even-handed and truly independent regulator.”
The White House on Tuesday said Sohn “would have brought tremendous intellect and experience, which is why the president nominated her in the first place.”
“We also appreciated her dedication to public service, her talent and her years of work as one of the nation’s leading public advocates on behalf of American consumers and competition,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.