WASHINGTON — Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler paused the agency’s public meeting Thursday (Feb. 18) for a moment of silence in remembrance of Judge Dan Brenner, the former top FCC adviser and cable attorney who was struck and killed earlier this week while crossing a Los Angeles street. (Funeral arrangements have been made for services tomorrow in Los Angeles.)
Brenner, the longtime senior vice president of public policy at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, was a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge.
Prior to the moment of silence, Wheeler had plenty to say about his late friend and colleague.
Wheeler called Brenner a “former member of the team” at the FCC. He was a senior advisor to chairman Charlie Ferris and his successor, Mark Fowler, and pointed out he had served for 17 years as chief regulatory council at NCTA, where Wheeler had been president and CEO.
Wheeler said picturing Judge Brenner in a robe was “something that those of us who knew Dan always thought was interesting attire for someone who was so quick-minded and so funny.” Brenner was also an accomplished stand-up comedian.
“He was a mentor to many in the policy community and a friend to us all. He was a leader in the LGBT community [he was a driving force in the Cable Positive AIDS funding effort] and spent a lot of time teaching math to the underprivileged community,” Wheeler added. “He is truly going to be missed. He was a great person and a great man.”
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said Brenner would be missed by the bar and by the FCC family. “Our hearts are heavy. It is tough when a light like that is dimmed, but he will never be forgotten.”
Commissioner Ajit Pai called him a great lawyer, a good man, and a very funny man. He said the first and only case he ever argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which has primary jurisdiction over FCC decisions, was against Brenner.
“It was a very arcane inside wiring case and I told him afterward that I thought we were pretty likely to win,” Pai recalled. “Nonetheless, I told him that if he had challenged the regulations adoption many years ago, I told him off the record he would have a had a pretty decent chance of winning, and he said, ‘Now you tell me.’ ”
Pai said the joie de vivre Brenner brought to everything he did was remarkable. “We thank him for his public service to the people of California and for his labors at the FCC and will remember him in the years to come.”