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Gigi Sohn’s Time At A Shuttered Streaming Service Could Sink Her Nomination

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  • President Joe Biden’s plans to confirm Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may be in jeopardy as concerns mount over her past work at a streaming service shut down for violating the law.
  • Moderate Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee Jon Tester and Kyrsten Sinema are holding up Sohn’s nomination, expressing concerns over whether Sohn will have to recuse herself from certain FCC matters due to her prior involvement with streaming service Locast, according to two people familiar with the matter.
  • Committee Chairwoman Sen. Maria Cantwell proposed a deal last week in which Sohn would recuse herself from certain portions of the FCC’s mission if confirmed, irking the White House and Sen. Chuck Schumer, who worried that Sohn’s potential recusal could neuter the Democrats’ FCC agenda.
  • Though Tester and Sinema have not indicated their opposition to Sohn, her nomination still hangs in the balance as she is unlikely to receive any Republican votes.

President Joe Biden’s plans to confirm Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may be in jeopardy as concerns mount over her past work at a streaming service shut down for violating the law.

Moderate Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee Jon Tester and Kyrsten Sinema are holding up Sohn’s nomination, expressing concerns over her prior involvement with streaming service Locast, according to two people familiar with the matter. The concerns largely center on whether Sohn’s involvement with the company may force her to recuse herself from issues related to broadcasting companies, a substantial chunk of the FCC’s purview.

Sohn served as a director of Locast, a now-defunct streaming service that re-transmitted local television broadcasts over the internet. The company was shut down in September after a judge ruled the service did not qualify for a copyright exemption and was thereby violating copyright law.

Prior to Sohn’s confirmation hearing in early December, the broadcast industry’s trade organization the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) issued a statement arguing that Sohn’s time at Locast constituted a conflict of interest and that the group was working with lawmakers to address potential ethical concerns. Sohn also faced several questions during her hearing over whether she would recuse herself from matters related to Locast, to which she said she would.

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Tester’s office declined to answer specific questions regarding Sohn, but said that the senator had a fruitful one on one meeting with the nominee. Sinema’s office did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

Neither Tester nor Sinema have publicly indicated their opposition to Sohn; however, concerns over Sohn’s tenure at Locast have nevertheless prompted Democrats to rethink their strategy regarding her nomination.

Committee Chairwoman Sen. Maria Cantwell proposed a deal last week in which Sohn would recuse herself from certain portions of the FCC’s mission if confirmed, Fox Business first reported. The plan reportedly irked the White House and Sen. Chuck Schumer, who worried that Sohn’s potential recusal could neuter the Democrats’ FCC agenda as Sohn could be forced to recuse herself from matters related to broadcast companies, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

Negotiations over Sohn’s nomination spurred Cantwell to delay Sohn’s committee vote, which was scheduled for this Wednesday, ostensibly to allow committee members additional time to meet with Sohn, Politico first reported. However, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, the committee’s ranking member, attributed the delay to a request made by him and Cantwell to the FCC regarding the exact “scope of work” from which Sohn would be required to recuse herself.

“The decision to delay the committee’s vote on Ms. Sohn’s nomination highlights the seriousness of the issues surrounding the specifics of her ethics agreement,” Wicker said in a statement shared with the DCNF. “We are all aware of the recent legal activity involving Ms. Sohn and a corporate board on which she has served.”

Sohn defended herself in her committee hearing, pointing out that she takes “very seriously allegations of bias,” and that she has been working with the Office of Government Ethics to “make sure I have no conflicts and I have no predetermined biases.”

Though Tester and Sinema have not indicated their opposition to Sohn, her nomination still hangs in the balance as she is unlikely to receive any Republican votes. GOP lawmakers have pointed to Sohn’s previous comments, including an old tweet in which she described Fox News as “state-sponsored propaganda,” as evidence of Sohn’s partisanship, with Sen. Lindsay Graham describing her as a “political ideologue who has disdain for conservatives.”

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected]

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