WASHINGTON — In the spirit of the Obama Administration’s aggressive pursuit of leakers, acting Federal Communications Commission chairwoman Mignon Clyburn has warned her fellow commissioners about leaking agenda information outside the building.
The FCC’s general counsel’s office has circulated a memo meant to discourage the leak of details about the agency’s agenda items, according to multiple sources. A spokesman for Clyburn declined comment and to make a copy available.
According to sources, who either did not have a copy or declined to provide it, the memo advised staffers of the government rule against talking about nonpublic items, including agenda items, outside the agency.
Those outside the commission would include journalists, but sources at the FCC said the memo — though widely circulated — was likely directed at the office of commissioner Ajit Pai over a specific, perceived leak to industry lobbyists. Pai’s office had no comment.
While the law is clearly on the books, sometimes government officials feel there is also a public interest in sharing what the FCC chair has asked for a vote on.
Lips had appeared to get tighter at the FCC since Clyburn took over, but that is also a factor of there being only three commissioners, which means less cover for leaked information to journalists and others.
For example, a “source close to a Republican commissioner” can only be close to the Republican commissioner. The FCC is currently at three members — two Democrats and one Republican — down from five.
Several FCC sources described the memo as unusual, and one former agency official who asked not to be identifi ed called it “troubling.” It also rubbed some current staffers the wrong way, though none would go on the record with their displeasure.