Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly have found themselves in hot water following their involvement in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland last week. Chairman Pai accepted a rifle as the “Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award” from the National Rifle Association, to recognize the Chairman for “saving the Internet” by eliminating the Net Neutrality rule; the move took many by surprise, since it was the first time anyone knew that the NRA had an interest in Net Neutrality. Critics, including former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), noted that Pai is not permitted to accept gifts valued at over $200—which presumably includes the rifle.
Et tu, Commissioner O’Rielly?
Michael O’Rielly appeared at the same CPAC panel and, when asked how the Commission could stop “ping-ponging” back and forth on issues every time the administrations change, responded, “I think what we can do is make sure as conservatives that we elect good people to both the House, Senate and make sure that President Trump gets reelected.” This is a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits some federal employees from engaging in some forms of political activities. Responding to the news that Hatch Act complaints are forthcoming, an FCC representative said,“Commissioner O’Rielly was asked a question on how to prevent the agency from ping ponging back and forth. He tried to respond in a factual way without engaging in advocacy.”