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Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein to Leave FCC

03/23/2009

On Friday, March 20, President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Democrat FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein to serve as Administrator for the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), of the United States Department of Agriculture; the nomination will need to be confirmed by the US Senate. It is speculated that Adelstein will not leave the five-member Commission until at least one of the three Commissioner vacancies is filled, since his departure would leave the FCC without a quorum.

According to his FCC biography, Adelstein, a "a life-long public servant...has dedicated his career to fighting for the public interest. As a Commissioner, his approach is guided by the key principle that the public interest means securing access to communications for everyone, including those the market may leave behind. Adelstein is a particularly strong advocate for media diversity and localism, and works diligently to encourage increased voices on the airwaves to support a well-informed citizenry. He has worked to promote access to telecommunications and media outlets by minorities, rural and low-income consumers, people with disabilities, and non-English speakers." As RUS Administrator, Adelstein would be responsible for distributing $2.5 billion in broadband stimulus grants.

Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps congratulated Adelstein, saying he will "bring a depth of knowledge, experience and commitment to the job that will enable him to make a huge contribution to advancing the well-being of rural America. He knows the issues and challenges inside-out and will be able to hit the ground running, which is exactly what's needed since RUS has been given such extraordinary responsibilities by the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Simply put, Jonathan's years at the FCC have been dedicated to advancing the public interest across the wide gamut of telecommunications and media issues. He's been a true leader, an eloquent spokesman, and a delight to work with. I look forward to continuing to work with him on the issues we both believe in and to continuing the friendship that we and our families share."

Commissioner Robert McDowell -- who, along with Copps and Adelstein, currently serve as FCC Commissioners -- said in a statement that the "RUS will benefit greatly from [Adelstein's] leadership and decades of experience in public service. Although I will miss having Jonathan as a colleague on the Commission, I wish him the best as he transitions into this new opportunity. I am confident that rural America will be well served by his commitment to service."

Before joining the Commission in 2002, Adelstein served for 15 years as a staff member in the US Senate. For his final seven years, he was a senior legislative aide to then Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), where he advised Senator Daschle on telecommunications, financial services, transportation and other key issues. Previously, he served as Professional Staff Member to Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman David Pryor (D-AR), including an assignment as a special liaison to Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and as a Legislative Assistant to then-Senator Donald W. Riegle, Jr. (D-MI). Prior to his service in the Senate, Adelstein was a Teaching Fellow in the Department of History, Harvard University, while studying at the Kennedy School of Government. Adelstein also was a Teaching Assistant in the Department of History, Stanford University where he received an MA in History and a BA with Distinction in Political Science. He also served as a Communications Consultant to the Stanford Graduate School of Business.



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