Representatives rip FCC Chairman Pai’s ‘lack of candor’ and double down on net neutrality questions

Thirteen members of Congress have written to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai criticizing his “repeated evasive responses to our inquiries” and “outright refusal to respond to some of the members of this Committee.” Unsatisfied with the answers or evasions he has offered to date, they reiterate questions related to net neutrality and other issues that they’ve sent over the past months.

“While we appreciate your continued willingness to testify before our Committee, we are concerned that you have been unable to give complete responses to verbal questions, questions for the record, or oversight letters from our members,” reads the letter from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Democrats.

“We take our oversight responsibilities very seriously, and we expect witnesses before the Committee and recipients of our letters to treat their responses the same way,” they wrote.

These Representatives, led by Frank Pallone Jr (D-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), have sent multiple letters of inquiry to Pai over run-up to and aftermath of the net neutrality vote.

In June, they questioned the nature of and response to the cyberattack on FCC systems during the net neutrality comment period. Pai responded saying that much of what they asked he could not answer because the threat was “ongoing” and revealing the measures they took would “undermine” them.

Before the passage of the rules, they warned that the FCC’s proposal “fundamentally and profoundly runs counter to the law,” and that they spoke with the authority of people who had helped craft that particular law. Pai’s response to this may be considered the rule itself, which he clearly believes is completely lawful and justifies itself in its lengthy preamble.

After the vote, they sent a letter asking about numerous problems relating to the comment system and why, for example, their own comments were not addressed. Pai responded to a number of letters taking issue with the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom order with a form letter of his own that assured his august pen pals that everything was fine.

The inadequate responses to these and many other letters (on such issues as media regulation and 911 issues) clearly got the Committee to the point where they felt they had to strike back. A sternly worded letter may not do any more now than it did over the last year, but a paper trail of displeasure and responses with a distinct “lack of candor,” as Rep. Pallone put it, could be useful down the road.

You can read the full letter here, to which is appended “a collection of letters that you have yet to answer completely, or at all.” Chairman Pai is requested to provide responses by June 4.