Sen. Cruz: Gigi Sohn Is an Extreme Partisan Who Lacks the Impartiality and Candor Necessary To Sit On FCC

February 14, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In his opening statement at today’s full committee hearing to consider the nomination of Gigi Sohn to be a Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) detailed Ms. Sohn’s lengthy record of extremism, poor ethics, bad judgment, and disdain for Congress.

Ranking Member Cruz’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery:

“Vetting a nominee to the Federal Communications Commission is a serious task.  The FCC is an agency with vast power over how Americans communicate and what information they access.  It is also an agency with a history of abusing vague statutory provisions to pursue partisan policy goals.

“We know enough from today’s extreme left what happens when power is put in the wrong hands.  It doesn’t take much to imagine a partisan FCC going down a dark path in attempting to censor what we see, hear, read, and ultimately, think.

“As such, our responsibility as senators is to make sure an FCC nominee not only has the expertise to be an independent regulator, but also possess good judgment and temperament.  The nominee must be fair, ethical, and perhaps most importantly, honest.

“On all these fronts, Gigi Sohn fails.

“There is a reason we are on our third nomination hearing for Ms. Sohn.  Both during this process and in her previous positions, she has shown herself to be an extreme partisan who lacks the impartiality and candor necessary to serve in a leadership position at a powerful independent regulatory agency.

“She has displayed bad judgment and poor ethics.

“And she has associated herself with the most radical views on the far left.

“I will break down each of these points, but first, let’s recap how we got here.

“In March 2020, Ms. Sohn joined the board of a streaming service called Locast despite knowing that it was embroiled in a lawsuit arising from the group’s piracy of broadcast content.

“The following year, the White House began vetting her for a spot on the FCC.  During the vetting process, a reasonable individual might have stepped aside from Locast but not Ms. Sohn. 

“Despite being considered to regulate the very same companies that were suing her organization for stealing from them, Ms. Sohn remained on Locast’s board.

“Then, in the fall of 2021, a federal judge found that Locast was engaged in illegal behavior, ordered it to stop operating, and awarded statutory damages of $32 million to the broadcasters.

“On October 26, 2021, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Ms. Sohn.  Just one day later, Ms. Sohn signed an agreement settling the lawsuit.

“Ms. Sohn then hid significant details about the settlement from this committee.  She actively misled senators about the settlement’s dollar amount and her ability to share settlement information with the committee. 

“It’s clear why: it was a sweetheart settlement. The broadcasters’ drastically reduced her organization’s penalty by 98% — from $32 million to $700,000. 

“It was already improper that she executed a settlement with the broadcasters at the same time she was being nominated to the FCC.

“But to then cut a sweetheart deal with them—and be dishonest about it with members of Congress—is disqualifying.  A basic requirement for public officials is trustworthiness.  And Ms. Sohn failed.

“If Ms. Sohn’s brazen theft of intellectual property, lack of candor, and conflicts of interest weren’t disqualifying on their own, then her long record of poor judgment should seal her fate.

“Just this past year while her nomination was pending, Ms. Sohn was making multiple donations to Senators.  Had this been done by a Republican nominee, I suspect my Democrat colleagues and their media allies would be apoplectic. 

“But this level of unseemliness is par for the course for Ms. Sohn.  Ms. Sohn has engaged in extreme vitriol against her political opponents, and endorsed far left radicals’ character assassination attempts against numerous Republican—and Democrat—senators.

“She has deep ties to far left organizations, engages in partisan attacks, and has also promoted anti-police views. For example, she’s retweeted and liked posts by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling for defunding the police. And, in July 2020, during riots in Portland, Oregon, she retweeted a post attacking federal law enforcement officers as “armed goons in riot gear with tear gas.”

“It’s no surprise that her nomination is opposed by multiple law enforcement groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police and National Sheriffs Association.

“Ms. Sohn portrays herself as a defender of free speech but has a history of campaigning to censor conservatives.  She calls Fox News “dangerous to our democracy” and has urged the FCC to revoke Sinclair’s broadcast licenses.  At the same time, she has a history of fighting against indecency regulations that protect children from exposure to filth on TV.  To Ms. Sohn, it seems conservative speech is worse than obscenity.

“As we’ve seen with Big Tech, there is a real problem with de-platforming conservatives in this country. Putting Ms. Sohn on the Commission would create deep mistrust of the FCC amongst half our population.

“Let’s be clear.  These concerns are not because she is a Democrat.  This committee has a track record of moving qualified nominees from both parties.  But Gigi Sohn isn’t the right nominee for this job, and her repeated displays of extremism, poor ethics, bad judgment, and disdain for Congress reveal that she’s unfit to be trusted with such vast power.