Cruz Sounds Alarm On Biden FCC Nominee: ‘Dangerous Place For A Partisan’
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to members of the press after a Senate Republican luncheon at Russell Senate Office Building March 24, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz sounded the alarm about President Joe Biden’s nominee to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as the Senate Commerce Committee voted on a party-line basis to move the nominee to a full vote in the U.S. Senate.

Speaking before the Committee after the vote, Cruz warned that Gigi Sohn, Biden’s pick to become FCC Commissioner, has a history of advocating for censorship of conservatives, and it would be dangerous to put her in charge of the FCC.

“[I have] significant substantive concerns with this nominee,” Cruz said.

He referenced a letter from former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who took issue with Sohn’s previous comments advocating against expanding broadband access for rural Americans in favor of constructing government-run networks in urban areas, a process known as “overbuilding.” Cruz called the letter “interesting,” and said he hoped Democrats in the Senate would take Heitkamp’s warnings to heart.

“My principal concern with Ms. Sohn is that she has expressed a significant willingness to use government power against political enemies, and to use government power as a tool of censorship. And I think the FCC is a particularly dangerous place for a partisan who is willing to try to muzzle those with whom she disagrees.” Sohn has a history of attacks against Fox News, and posted tweets appearing to call for the censorship of both Fox News and Sinclair Media. She was asked about these and other controversial tweets during her confirmation hearing but claimed they would not impact her behavior as a policymaker.

“There was a time when there were Democrats willing to speak out in defense of free speech,” Cruz continued. “That time seems to have passed. I think that is unfortunate. I hope that at least some in the Democratic caucus continue to value free speech and don’t want to see government power abused, don’t want to see, in a subsequent Republican administration, a Republican on the FCC silencing Democrat voices. That would be equally inappropriate. It’s not the role of government to silence voices with which they disagree, and for those of us who have served some time in this body, we’ve all learned and seen firsthand, the shoe is on the other foot, and one party may have a majority at one point, one party may have the White House at one point, but with the progression of time, the positions are changed.”

In addition to those concerns, Cruz also made known a significant ethical question about Sohn.

Cruz pointed out that Sohn joined the board of now-defunct online television streaming service Locast in March of 2020, almost a year after the service was sued for copyright infringement. Cruz said that Sohn knew this when she joined the board, and issued a statement in support of Locast at the time the suit was filed. A federal judge ruled against Locast and against the broadcasters it had infringed upon, and a $32 million settlement was made for damages. But a secret settlement was made that lowered the amount from $32 million to just $700,000. The timing was especially suspicious, Cruz argued, as President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Sohn to the FCC on October 26, 2021, the secret settlement was filed on October 27, and Sohn’s nomination was formally submitted on October 28th.

The Senate Commerce Committee reported a tie vote to the Senate on Sohn’s nomination, putting her confirmation up for a vote before the full Senate with extra procedural hurdles. Committee Republicans issued a statement on Twitter Thursday cautioning Democrats against moving the confirmation to the full Senate. “To be clear: today’s vote does not advance Gigi Sohn to the Senate floor,” Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) said, via Twitter. “With her nomination failing to garner support from a majority of committee members, Democrat leadership will now have to decide if they want to take the extraordinary step of circumventing this committee and bringing such a polarizing nominee to the Senate floor for a vote.”

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