FCC lawyer defends GOP commissioners appearing at CPAC

The top lawyer at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that the Republican commissioners who appeared at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) did not violate ethics rules.

The letter from FCC General Counsel Thomas Johnson Jr., obtained by the Hill, says the appearances at CPAC “helps promote transparency and accountability and “encourages public participation and interest in Commission rulemakings.”

Johnson Jr.’s letter came after Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, and Commissioner Brendan Carr expressing concern about them attending the event.

The letter asked whether the FCC commissioners used taxpayer money at the event or met with ethics officials about it.

In a statement to the Hill, Pallone said the FCC “did not provide any legal reason why the Commissioners could not respond, and we still expect the Commissioners to answer our questions.”

The Republican commissioners’ appearance at CPAC has not only caught attention from the House of Representatives but the Senate as well.

Last month, several Democrats in the Senate asked the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the FCC Inspector General to investigate whether O’Rielly violated the Hatch Act by supporting President Donald Trump during the conference.

The Hatch Act bars government officials from using their authority to influence elections.

The Senate letter said O’Rielly said he hoped that “we elect good people to both the House, Senate and make sure that President Trump gets reelected,” according to CNN.

You can read all of the Hill’s report here.

Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).