The House Energy and Commerce Committee released a 110-page investigation (.pdf) today titled, “Deception And Distrust: The Federal Communications Comittee Under Kevin J. Martin,” and in it they allege that Martin “manipulated, withheld, or suppressed data, reports, and information.”
That’s it? Well, that’s not so bad…right? Oh, there’s more:
- Important Commission matters have not been handled in an open and transparent matter, raising suspicions that the parties are not treated fairly.
- The Commission has failed to carry out important responsibilities.
- Kevin Martin’s heavy handed and non-collegial management style has created distrust, suspicion and turmoil amongst the five current Commissioners.
- The Commission staff have not been efficiently managed.
The AP quotes Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who chairs the House Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, as saying Kevin Martin’s tenure will provide a legacy of “what not to do.”
Some of the specifics via AP:
- Martin manipulated the findings of an FCC inquiry into the potential consumer benefits of requiring cable companies to sell channels on an individual — or “a la carte” — basis. The House investigation concludes that Martin undermined the integrity of the FCC staff and may have improperly influenced the Congressional debate on the matter by ordering agency employees to rewrite a report concluding that a la carte mandates would note benefit consumers.
- Martin tried to manipulate the findings of an annual FCC report on the state of competition in the market for cable and other video services to show that the industry had a big enough market share to permit additional government regulation. When the full commission voted to reject that conclusion, Martin suppressed the report by withholding its release.
- Under Martin’s leadership, the FCC’s oversight of the Telecommunications Relay Service Fund, which pays for special telecommunications services for people with hearing or speech disabilities, was overly lax. This resulted in overcompensation of the companies that provide these services by as much as $100 million a year — costs that were ultimately passed along to phone company customers.
But it’s not all bad news today for Mr. Martin. As a matter of fact RCR Wireless, an industry magazine, named him as their “Person of The Year.” From their poorly timed article on the man:
[The] instant snapshot [Washington insiders created] of Martin would soon be supplemented by whisper-campaign rumblings about a management style viewed as secretive, controlling and at times vengeful, inviting scrutiny from the Government Accountability Office and Democrats who control Congress. Where reality ended and fiction began remains unclear, though perception is at least as good as fact in this town.
No matter. When it came to overseeing the wireless industry, Martin broke with script.
Here’s the report:
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