Republican members of the Senate Commerce Committee grilled Gigi Sohn, President Joe Biden’s nominee for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), at a hearing Wednesday, questioning her history as a left-wing activist.
Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn questioned Sohn’s affiliations with two activist groups, Fight For the Future (FFTF) and Free Press, who Blackburn said have incited violence and harassment against elected officials, citing an instance in which former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was harassed and threatened by net neutrality activists.
“It is of concern to me, because you have tweeted support for these groups. You have made donations to these groups, and then you have been a public interest advocate for the issues; you share the sentiment that these groups are pushing forward because you have advocated for that,” Blackburn said.
Sohn has previously voiced her support for FFTF and Free Press, acknowledging she donates to the groups and applauding them for the “great work” they do. In an interview with FFTF director Evan Greer, Sohn thanked the organization for its work.
Sohn claimed she was in “no way affiliated with those groups” in response to Blackburn’s questions, but acknowledged that she had made “contributions” due to their advocacy work, before acknowledging she was, in fact, affiliated with them.
“We’re all affiliated with organizations that do things we don’t like,” Sohn said.
Fight For the Future sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week calling for Democratic Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, to be removed from her leadership position due to delays in Sohn’s confirmation, while Free Press insinuated Cantwell may be complicit in obstructing Sohn’s nomination.
Blackburn pressed Sohn on her affiliations with the groups, asking her to “publicly disavow” them.
“Another group put up build boards and public materials calling Sen. [Kyrsten] Sinema, who is a member of this committee, a ‘telecom shill’ and corrupt, and another calling for Sen. Cantwell as pandering to the industry, and what I want to know is will you publicly disavow these organizations like Fight For the Future and Free Press, who spearheaded these efforts?” Blackburn asked.
Sohn did not disavow the groups, but said she does not “agree with those tactics” and that she has told the groups her feelings on the matter.