FCC Commissioner Clyburn confirms she’s stepping down

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Mignon Clyburn, a champion of rural broadband and net neutrality, is going to be stepping down. (FCC)

Mignon Clyburn is going to be leaving her post as FCC commissioner following a nine-year tenure with the regulator.

Clyburn, who was the first woman to lead the FCC when she served as acting chairman in 2013, will open up a spot on the five-member regulator that will be filled with another Democrat.

FCC Commissioner Clyburn Image: FCC
Mignon Clyburn

“It’s been the most incredible opportunity for me,” Clyburn said at the FCC’s April meeting. “In my wildest dreams, if I could have crafted my destiny, I never would have dreamed of this.”

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RELATED: Geoffrey Starks reportedly set to replace Clyburn at FCC

Nominated as commissioner by President Barack Obama, Clyburn will be remembered for her role as a champion of the 2015 net neutrality rules. She was also a staunch opponent of the overturning of the net neutrality rules when Republicans gained the majority after Donald Trump took office last year.

Besides net neutrality, Clyburn was also critical of efforts by the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC). She recently said that the BDAC's single method of broadband expansion won’t apply to the unique needs of every community.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai praised Clyburn for her efforts during her time with the commission.

“She has been a tremendous leader and a committed public servant throughout her time here,” Pai said in a statement. “As the first woman to head the agency, she led skillfully through a transition and put her stamp on the Commission, including through her steadfast leadership in telehealth, media diversity, and digital inclusion. I have enjoyed working with her and, even when we have not seen eye-to-eye on policy, I have always held her candor and thoughtfulness in the highest regard.”

Clyburn’s term expired last June, but she had the option of remaining on the commission until the end of this year or until a successor was confirmed by the Senate.

An earlier report revealed that Democrats in Congress have reportedly decided on Geoffrey Starks, currently an assistant chief in the agency's enforcement bureau, as their candidate for her replacement.

Before the Senate confirms a successor, the FCC will have a 2-2 split between Democrats and Republicans, hindering the commission’s move forward with controversial issues. The repeal of the 2015 net neutrality rules in December passed along a 3-2 party line vote, for example.

Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who is now a special adviser for Common Cause, said Clyburn gave an “eloquent and effective voice to many millions who have for so long lacked a voice at the FCC, and her work to make communications policy work for everyone makes her a champion to them and to me.”