Watchdog barks in favor of transparent ex parte presentations


Free Press has weighed in on the FCC’s plans to open up the ex parte process so that interested parties can learn about who met to discuss what. And it wants to go a little farther than that, asking for full financial disclosure from backers of the ex parte presenters.

Free Press Policy Counsel M. Chris Riley said: “As with other government processes, whether in Congress or agencies, FCC administrative proceedings must meet a high standard of transparency and integrity. We support the FCC’s proposal to include disclosure requirements when a participant in these proceedings may have a conflict of interest. The absence of such disclosure could undermine the FCC’s ability – and obligation – to shape communications policy for the benefit of the public.”

In its filing, the advocacy group wrote, “Free Press supports mandatory disclosure of all financial contributions directed to funding Commission advocacy activity, in all its forms. Without such disclosure, it may be greatly unclear whether advocacy is driven by the general public good, or by specific special interests; in the worst case, this can undermine the Commission’s responsibility to shape communications policy for the benefit of the public. The Commission should consider the imposition of disclosure obligations not only in ex parte proceedings, but also in comments and all other filings before the Commission.”