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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Ajit Pai can't even put together an FCC advisory panel without it being full of corruption

Illustration for article titled Ajit Pai can't even put together an FCC advisory panel without it being full of corruption
Photo: Ethan Miller (Getty Images)

Ajit Pai, America’s 12th-best Bernie Madoff cosplayer, has been busy during his time as chair of the Federal Communications Commission. Whether it’s mocking the public he’s been appointed to serve or just talking down to his fellow commission members, Pai has made his blithely hypocritical stances no secret.


And now, as detailed in a new report from Vice, it’s becoming clear that even his supposedly good-faith efforts to help overcome the nation’s broadband coverage gaps are little more than a transparent giveaway to the nation’s largest internet service providers and telecom cronies. An advisory council to the FCC assembled in large part by Pai himself is now a hotbed of corruption accusations marked by resignations and scandal, all of which really tie the room of oligarchic capitalism together nicely.

The Broadband Deployment Advisory Council (BDAC) was formed last year to ostensibly help ensure broadband for all Americans. Despite the fact it immediately became clear most of the council was a “who’s who of telecom industry insiders,” there was still hope it would actually, you know, make some show of doing its job. Instead, there has been an ongoing flow of resignations from the few members who thought they were signing up to serve the public good, only to learn they were serving kickbacks to Pai’s industry buddies. San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo put it nicely in a letter announcing his resignation:

Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, doesn’t believe in public/community broadband, thus assuring everyone he will continue to support state laws preventing local neighborhoods from constructing their own broadband to solve the problem. Capitalism, by this standard, is great right up until someone else might make some money, a truism Pai apparently applies to every aspect of his job of selling out whatever sad house of cards of principles he may once have stood on.

Oh, but let’s not forget the corruption part! This week the BDAC really got some press attention when one of its former chairs, a Pai appointee named Elizabeth Ann Pierce, was arrested on charges of operating a scam that swindled investors out of some $250 million. Pai had nothing but words of praise when he brought her on last year, and one can only imagine Pai is busily looking through stacks of paperwork, trying frantically to find a loophole to help his friend of out a possible 20 years of jail time, by redefining “fraud that screws innocents” as “clever innovation.” He’s got a lot of first-hand experience with being investigated for corruption, after all.

Alex McLevy is a writer and editor at The A.V. Club, and would kindly appreciate additional videos of robots failing to accomplish basic tasks.