Thursday, December 7, 2006

FCC General Counsel Clears McDowell to Vote in AT&T/BellSouth Proceeding

The General Counsel of the FCC cleared Commissioner Robert McDowell from any conflict of interest concern that might otherwise have prevented him from voting on the AT&T/BellSouth merger proceeding.

McDowell previously served as Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for the Competitive Telecommunications Association (CompTel), an organization which has opposed the pending merger. Initially, McDowell had recused himself from voting on the merger.

In October, the FCC postponed a vote on the AT&T + BellSouth merger, as the Democrat commissioners sought concessions from the companies, while the two Republican commissioners sought a quick approval of the transaction.

The FCC's General Counsel said that it has the authority to permit an commission employee to participate in a particular matter that might otherwise raise the issue of impartiality, based on the determination that "the interest of the Government in the employee's participation outweighs the concern that a reasonable person may question the integrity of the agency's programs and operations."