Gigi Sohn, President Joe Biden’s nominee to fill the vacant seat on the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), announced on Tuesday her decision to withdraw from consideration.
Sohn said in a statement, first obtained by The Washington Post, that the “unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks on my character and my career as an advocate for the public interest” over the past 16 contentious months since Biden first nominated her for the position “have taken an enormous toll on me and my family.”
“It is a sad day for our country and our democracy when dominant industries, with assistance from unlimited dark money, get to choose their regulators,” she said. “And with the help of their friends in the Senate, the powerful cable and media companies have done just that.”
Sohn made the announcement after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) put out a statement earlier on Tuesday saying that he would “vote against Gigi Sohn for Democratic Commissioner” on the FCC.
Referring to the bipartisan opposition to her nomination for “her years of partisan activism, inflammatory statements online, and work with far-left groups,” Manchin said that he “cannot support [Sohn’s] nomination to the FCC, and I urge the Biden Administration to put forth a nominee who can bring us together, not drive us apart.”
“Especially now, the FCC must remain above the toxic partisanship that Americans are sick and tired of,” he said, “and Ms. Sohn has clearly shown she is not the person to do that.”
Biden first nominated Sohn, a former aide to Obama administration-appointed FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, to an open seat on the five-member FCC board in October 2021, which had been vacant since January 2021, according to fair.org.
Her nomination was stalled after her December 2021 confirmation hearing when she refused to disclose to the Senate details about a legal matter concerning nonprofit streaming service Locust with which she was deeply involved. This, added to previous issues that surfaced regarding some left-leaning social media posts (critical of the police, conservative politicians, and media outlets) that she had made in the past and a tech policy think tank that she had founded with funding from George Soros, left Republicans with serious concerns about her ability to remain impartial.
In January 2023, Biden renominated her, “hoping that the Democrats’ new 51–49 Senate majority would ensure her confirmation,” Axios reported.
On Feb. 14, Sohn appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee, where afterward a few Democratic senators and Sen. Krysten Sinema (I-Ariz.) seemed somewhat cool on the nomination even though they “voted to move Sohn’s nomination out of committee.” This left the committee vote with a “14 to 14 deadlock” and the nomination in danger of failing to reach a full Senate vote, according to taxpayer advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform.
The FCC is an independent government agency that regulates interstate radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable communications in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Congress oversees the agency, which is responsible for implementing and enforcing U.S. communications laws and regulations.
The FCC has five commissioners, who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. No more than three of those five commissioners can be affiliated with the same political party.
The Biden administration’s FCC is currently deadlocked at two Democratic and two Republican commissioners with one empty seat, leaving the agency unable to advance “some portions of Democrats’ agenda,” The Hill reported, such as “pushing forward action to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality laws.”