FCC Colluded with Leftist Organization Free Press to Push Government Regulation of Internet, Documents Show
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In December 2010, the FCC voted 3-2 to advance its “net neutrality program.” This decision seems to fly in the face of an April, 2010 federal appeals court ruling that the FCC had exceeded its authority in seeking to regulate the Internet and enforce “net neutrality” rules.The supporters of “net neutrality,” including Free Press, argue that high-speed Internet access is a “civil right,” and are recommending new government regulations to provide taxpayer-funded broadband Internet access to all populations, especially those deemed “underserved.” Opponents of “net neutrality” argue the program is designed to impose greater government control over the Internet and will result in less access, not more. Moreover, opponents of “net neutrality,” also dispute the claim that Internet access is a basic civil right protected by the U.S. Constitution.Judicial Watch uncovered internal correspondence showing unusual coordination by some officials at the FCC and Free Press in pushing the “net neutrality” agenda in the run up to the controversial FCC vote in December:
- On November 2, 2010, Free Press Associate Outreach Director Misty Perez Truedson sent an email to John Giusti, Chief of Staff to FCC Commissioner Michael Copps asking if Copps would write an op-ed for theAlbuquerque Journal in advance of a November 16 hearing on Internet access: “Would Commissioner Copps be interested in drafting an Op-ed in advance of the hearing? It’s a great way to get the word out and to spark conversations in advance of the event,” Truedson wrote. “We’re working on the op ed,” Giusti wrote back on November 9.
- The documents also include a series of emails sent to set up meetings between Copps and former Free Press President John Silver. “We are starting to get a good sense of how we’d like to proceed during the next three tricky months on NN [net neutrality]…” Silver wrote in the same October 8, 2010, email: “I think it may make sense for us to get together next week when I’m in town.” The documents also include a written summary of a phone call between Silver and Copps on November 28, 2010, just prior to the FCC vote in December: “Silver emphasized that a strong net neutrality rule is critical to preserving the Internet as a vibrant forum for speech, commerce, innovation and cultural expression…” the summary noted.
- One set of documents includes correspondence between FCC Special Counsel David Tannenbaum and Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott establishing lists of speakers for FCC “internet workshops.” Among the speakers proposed by Scott: “Joe Respars (ran online activism for the Obama campaign – he’s at Blue State Digital);” “Alex Nogales – National Hispanic Media Coalition;” “Jay Stanley – ACLU;” and “Clothilde de Coz [redacted] Reporters without Borders.”
- When Tannenbaum asked Scott about inviting a speaker from Color for Change in a November 17, 2010 email, Scott writes: “Yes – we know them well. I should have put James Rucker on my list. He’s very good. Up and coming civil rights leader. They are awesome.However, you should be aware that Color of Change is rather highly politicized. They are lead on the campaign to strip Glenn Beck of advertisers. And Van Jones is one of the founders. Not that these things should dissuade you from inviting them – I just wanted you to know.”(Van Jones was forced to resign from his position as Obama’s “Green Jobs czar,” in part because he had signed a petition in support of the 9/11 “Truther” movement, which believes the Bush administration masterminded the 9/11 terrorist attacks.)
Free Press has deep ties to radical leftists and socialists. Robert McChesny, former editor of the socialist magazineMonthly Review, is the co-founder and president of Free Press. Kim Gandy, the Chairman of the Free Press Board of Directors, served as the President of the National Organization for Women from 2001-2009. Craig Aaron, Free Press’s President and CEO, formerly worked as managing editor of the socialist tabloid In These Times. Free Press is financially supported by George Soros’s Open Society Institute and other hard-left groups such as the Ford Foundation and Democracy Alliance.“Net neutrality is just another Obama power grab. This is nothing less than the Obama administration’s attempt to stage a government takeover of the Internet under the guise of ‘net neutrality.’ So it should come as no surprise that Free Press, the hard left organization with socialist ties, is improperly driving the so-called net neutrality agenda from inside the Obama administration. The FCC is supposed to be an independent agency that follows the law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The American people should be deeply troubled by the fact that the Obama administration, on issue after issue, seems to be run by shadowy leftist organizations. Our government is supposed to be ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’, not ‘of the Left, by the Left, and for the Left.’”