Legal Issues

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
ajit pai, awards, ethics, fcc, net neutrality, nra

Companies:
nra



After Chat With Ethics Lawyers, FCC Boss Declines NRA Gun Award For Killing Net Neutrality

from the good-call,-hoss dept

Last month you might recall that the NRA gave FCC boss Ajit Pai the Charleton Heston Award for Courage for his decision to dismantle popular net neutrality rules. The tone-deaf celebration was a pretty hollow attention seeking move, but was also an ouroboros of blistering idiocy. One, the NRA appears oblivious to the fact that net neutrality rules would have helped it as well, since the entire point is to ensure the internet is a level playing field for all competitors and voices. Net neutrality protects free speech (even speech you don't agree with), something you'd think the folks at the NRA would be able to appreciate.

Two, there's simply nothing courageous about teaming up with Comcast to screw over the public and the nation's small businesses and startups. Pai's decision is widely derided as the dumbest decision in the history of modern tech policy. And while ISPs like to frame net neutrality as partisan to sow division and prevent meaningful rules, surveys repeatedly indicate the rules had broad bipartisan support.

It didn't take long for ethics experts to point out that the award and the NRA's gift to Pai (a Kentucky long rifle) was over $200 and therefore violated ethics rules and lobbying restrictions:

After a chat with FCC ethics lawyers, Pai appears to have finally realized that accepting the award probably wouldn't be a particularly bright idea. As such, Pai wrote a letter to the NRA declining the gun while insisting this whole thing simply caught him by surprise:

"As you know, once my staff became aware of what was happening, they asked backstage that the musket not be presented to me to ensure that this could be first discussed with and vetted by career ethics attorneys in the FCC’s Office of General Counsel," Pai wrote, according to an FCC source who relayed the text of the letters.

“Therefore, upon their counsel, I must respectfully decline the award,” he wrote. “I have also been advised by the FCC’s career ethics attorneys that I would not be able to accept the award upon my departure from government service."

Of course Pai and his staff could have rejected the award at any point (the award occurred on February 23), but then they wouldn't have been able to enjoy all the yucks at the expense of startups, consumers, and the health of the internet. From stem to stern this was just a PR disaster, and you couldn't have paid a fiction author to craft a dumber, more absurd narrative. And while those behind the effort likely believe they were being clever trolls, Millennial voters likely got a decidedly different impression from the tone-deaf gala.


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  • icon
    Oblate (profile), 5 Mar 2018 @ 1:45pm

    Maybe he learned something?

    Once he found out that he couldn't literally shoot down net neutrality there was no point in keeping the rifle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Mar 2018 @ 1:54pm

    What other activities are worth more than $200?

    It's a wonder he has managed to hide all his other ethics rules and lobbying restrictions. Oh, right, he doesn't cash in on those until he 'retires' from his current post.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2018 @ 2:07pm

      Re: What other activities are worth more than $200?

      I wouldn't say that he was able to hide them. Corruption is just that acceptable these days that they do not need to be hidden. If you really start to ding these politicians on ethics violations it will turn out like #metoo and hollywood. Everyone is/was doing it, and people knew about it all along but kept their heads in the sand until there was just too much water for the dams to hold back.

      Now all the self-righteous bigots that turned a blind eye are piling on like rabid dogs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2018 @ 1:57pm

    no spin here at all huh?

    "but was also an ouroboros of blistering idiocy."

    I wonder... what was TD's position on Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize? Was the same level of condescending prattle offered there as well?

    While I fully agree that Pai is a tool, it looked to me like TD has already passed judgement on the subject. For once Pai did the right thing but that is still not good enough for TD is it? Just the suspicious of wrong doing is an open and shut case of proven misdeed for you guys.

    Hypocrisy is a nasty disease, you should take a chillax pill. The republicans in congress are only the only group that are as you put it...

    "an ouroboros of blistering idiocy."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 5 Mar 2018 @ 2:40pm

      Re: no spin here at all huh?

      There was no shortage of people questioning whether Obama could legally receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Especially given that it came with a large financial reward. So....

      Reuters: Nobel award to Obama required lengthy U.S. Constitution check

      It helped that two previous sitting presidents, a sitting vice president, a Secretary of State and a U.S. Senator had previously won the Peace Prize.

      Obama donated the financial reward to charity.

      Ajit Pai broke the rules by accepting the expensive handmade gun from the NRA. Obama did not break the rules, and first did the legal checks to ensure that he did not break the rules.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2018 @ 3:17pm

      Re: no spin here at all huh?

      Great "both sides" drivel.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 6 Mar 2018 @ 1:03am

      Re: no spin here at all huh?

      "I wonder... what was TD's position on Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize?"

      Strangely enough, regular readers are actually quite aware, and the site provides honest people with a search functionality so that anyone interested can find out for themselves.

      But, that would require intellectual honesty, whereas you're just a liar who can't take criticism of actual wrongdoing by the people you support, so you try a pathetic "what about" deflection instead.

      "For once Pai did the right thing but that is still not good enough for TD is it?"

      No, it's not. Doing the right thing after publicly doing the wrong thing and only backtracking after being told by other people that it looks bad is still not a good thing. I know you support conmen and liars in everything they do, but you're not going to get them support from anyone else here until they at least learn to stop doing the bad shit in from of everyone's faces before issuing a fake apology.

      "Hypocrisy is a nasty disease"

      It is. You should get it seen to.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 6 Mar 2018 @ 7:22am

        Re: Re: no spin here at all huh?

        I seem to recall that none of the TD staff were keen on Obama getting the Prize given that he was enabling and allowing drone strikes on civilians because the CIA enjoy droning people, or something like that.

        It's pathetic how our resident trolls make wild accusations in the hope that some fool will believe them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 6 Mar 2018 @ 7:45am

          Re: Re: Re: no spin here at all huh?

          This is exactly why I "feed" them. While he obsesses over the dates people last commented, our resident fool tends to forget that the vast majority of people who read any site will no actively comment. They lurk and they read the conversation others are having.

          Without context, some might be fooled into thinking he has a point, or is correct about some accusations. So, I make sure to correct him whenever I notice some distortion of the truth. What a shame that I see him do that so often. Surely by now, even if you're the kind of tiny-minded person who finds entertainment value in trolling, a person would be bored by this time.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Thad, 6 Mar 2018 @ 9:02am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: no spin here at all huh?

            Without context, some might be fooled into thinking he has a point

            I doubt it.

            Nobody's going to look at Blue's inane ranting and think, "This guy gets it." Unless they already agree with him.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sehlat (profile), 5 Mar 2018 @ 1:59pm

    "After"

    That one word says one helluva lot about the man's (nonexistent) ethics right there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 5 Mar 2018 @ 3:05pm

    I assume...

    the real reason is they figured he would need it after selling us all out for Verizon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2018 @ 3:56pm

    FAA supports the second amendment,

    but condemns article 1, the 1st, 3rd,4th 13th, and 14th amendments.

    That they are ignorant of the fact that this is what they are doing when celebrating the death of NN is plausible, but not excusable.

    Of course cherry picking from the Constitution, and then waving a flag with one hand and flinging poo with the other is nothing new. SCOTUS has been doing it now for a century.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 8:57am

      Re: FAA supports the second amendment,

      ...do you use some weird kind of nonstandard keyboard on which the "A" is close enough to the "C" for you accidentally type the one in place of the other? (If so, what's it called, and where can I see pictures of the key layout?)

      Or if you really did mean to type "FAA", what the #&*)! does the Federal Aviation Administration have to do with this?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 7 Mar 2018 @ 9:03am

        Re: Re: FAA supports the second amendment,

        Although obviously not the same alphabet, a quick Google search shows that the Russian keyboard has letters that look like A and C very close to each other. Hmmm...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SilverBlade, 5 Mar 2018 @ 10:16pm

    Just covering his ass

    He's just covering his ass because he doesn't want to give anyone anymore ammo in the dozens of lawsuits that the FCC is facing right now..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Annonymouse, 6 Mar 2018 @ 9:41am

    Just give him a claymore with a clear set of instructions for use and then leave plenty of space and a camera 😁

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 6 Mar 2018 @ 11:15am

    Fickled finger of FATE award..

    Look it up..its REAL..
    And shows this has been around a long time

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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