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Charge: Congress Ignored FCC Commissioner’s Comcast Gig

Free Press says congressional hearing on reforms to the commission should have addressed Meredith Attwell Baker’s controversial departure

Media advocacy group Free Press slammed a congressional subcommittee for ignoring the controversy surrounding a Federal Communications Commissioner's resignation to become a top lobbyist for Comcast this week.

Meredith Attwell Baker drew sharp criticism from good government watchdogs for resigning from the FCC to take the new gig four months after she voted to approve Comcast's $13.75 billion purchase of NBC Universal.

Free Press said the House Energy and Commerce communications subcommittee missed an opportunity to question FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on the perceived conflict of interest during a hearing on reforms to the commission's approval process and authority.

Also Read: 4 Months After Approving Merger, FCC Commissioner Joins NBCU

"It is stunning that at a hearing about reforming the FCC no member of Congress raised the topic of Commissioner Baker's recent rush through the revolving door into the open arms of Comcast," Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron said in a statement. "How can Congress preach transparency and accountability while willfully ignoring Commissioner Baker’s scandalous departure and absence at today’s hearing?"

Much of the subcommittee hearing focused on the Comcast-NBC Universal deal, but Baker's exit went unmentioned.

Baker has tried to contain the blowback, releasing a statement this week noting that Comcast approached her about the job last month, after the merger had been approved.

"I have not only complied with the legal and ethical laws, but I also have gone further," Baker said. "I have not participated or voted any item, not just those related to Comcast or NBCUniversal, since entering discussions about an offer of potential employment." 

Baker did not attend Friday's hearing. She will formally resign from her post on June 3. 

Baker assumed the position of commissioner in July 2009, after being nominated by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

At Comcast, Baker will serve as senior vice president of government affairs for NBCUniversal. She will be based in Washington, D.C.