President Bush announced today that he’s nominating telecommunications lawyer Robert McDowell for the final vacant seat on the Federal Communications Commission. This was not an unexpected move, and it tips the commision into a Republican majority, but probably more interesting than McDowell’s political affiliation are his business ones. Since 1999 he’s worked for Comptel, “a trade association that lobbies primarily for communications companies that compete against the “big Bell” companies,” according to the CNET report. It has been widely reported that McDowell is no friend to the telcos, and his nomination may signal some changes in the normally warm and fuzzy relationships the incumbent carriers have had with the FCC. IP Democracy notes that McDowell works for a former chief aid to the powerful Commerce Committe Chairman Stevens, which has the worried telcos feeling a little gunshy:
McDowell’s nomination (rumored for weeks to be imminent) allegedly doesn’t sit well with the big incumbent telcos. Phone company execs fear that McDowell’s sympathies with their rivals will tilt the FCC toward more pro-competition policies in the telco sectors. But, McDowell works for Earl Comstock, a former chief aide to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) so the telcos are afraid to make a fuss.