FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's new net neutrality rules are now facing yet another investigation by the FCC's Inspector General David Hunt, who is also looking into whether the Obama administration improperly influenced the agency's development of the net neutrality rules, according to reports.
However, according to a Re/code article, the FCC's inspector general typically does not investigate the conduct of its commissioners. Traditionally, FCC investigators focus most of their attention on thwarting fraud in the agency's multi-billion federal subsidy program for landline voice and Internet services.
Reports of the investigation emerged just as House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and fellow members of Congress questioned Wheeler during a Tuesday hearing about his relationship with the White House.
Chaffetz previously accused the White House of improperly influencing the FCC's decision-making process and asked the regulator to provide all communications between the FCC and White House.
During the hearing, Chaffetz said there was a lack of transparency at the FCC as it was creating the new net neutrality rules.
He also took issue with Wheeler's unwillingness to release a draft of the rules before the regulator voted to approve them in February.
"I really do believe that at the FCC and maybe other agencies there should be a 30-day notice" of rules before they're adopted, Chaffetz said. "Give it the light of day."
In response to questions about the Obama administration, Wheeler said that White House officials did not interfere in how he crafted the nearly 300-page net neutrality order, which reclassified broadband providers under Title II of the Communications Act.
"There were no secret instructions from the White House," Wheeler said in a statement. "I did not, as CEO of an independent agency, feel obligated to follow the President's recommendation. But I did feel obligated to treat it with respect just as I have with the input I received – both pro and con - from 140 Senators and Representatives."
However, Wheeler did add that the president's Nov. 10 announcement telling the FCC to reclassify broadband providers under Title II of the Communications Act did have an impact on the decision.
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