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Biden's pick for FCC commissioner withdraws after lengthy fight for the job

Gigi Sohn was first nominated by President Biden to serve on the Federal Communications Commission in October 2021.
Pete Marovich
Gigi Sohn was first nominated by President Biden to serve on the Federal Communications Commission in October 2021.

Gigi Sohn, President Biden's nominee to the Federal Communications Commission, has withdrawn her nomination to the post, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed during Tuesday's briefing.

"We appreciate Gigi Sohn's candidacy for this important role," Jean-Pierre said. The White House has no updates in terms of new candidates yet, she added.

"We are sad to see this happen, but again we are very thankful to her dedication to public service, her talent, not just for this past year as she was going through the process, but also the last several years as a national public advocate on behalf of American consumers," Jean-Pierre said.

Her withdrawal comes as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., put out a statement announcing that he would vote no on the nomination over what he called "years of partisan activism."

In a statement provided to the Washington Post, Sohn called many of the accusations "blatant lies."

"The unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks on my character and my career as an advocate for the public interest have taken an enormous toll on me and my family," Sohn said.

Last month, the National Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement opposing the nomination, arguing that Sohn had "anti-police bias" and said that her role on the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights group, should disqualify her from the role.

During a February confirmation hearing, Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada echoed concerns over the nominee's alleged alignment with the defund the police movement and limiting police surveillance tools.

"Such concerns from law enforcement do give me pause," she said during her remarks.

Sohn was re-nominated at the start of this Congress as the third Democratic commissioner on the FCC.

Last Congress, her nomination was reported out of committee on a 14-14 party-line split, the first time an FCC nominee has not been reported favorably by the committee, the Manchin statement said.

Biden first moved to fill the role in October 2021. Sohn is a former FCC staffer. She would have been the the first openly LGBTIQ+ commissioner. It was expected that if given the role, Sohn would push for Obama-era net neutrality rules.

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Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.