Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) officially threw his hat in the ring for chairmanship of the House Energy & Commerce Committee Tuesday with an e-mailed announcement and a letter to presumptive House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that talked of a conservative agenda for the future and specifically mentioned his past efforts to curb broadcast indecency.
Upton has been defending himself from charges by E&C chair candidate Joe Barton (R-Tex.) that Upton is not sufficiently conservative, with an emphasis on his fiscal conservatism, including through a co-bylined piece in Politicowith Grover Nordquist from Americans for Tax Reform.
Upton was co-sponsor of a 2005 bill that boosted FCC fines tenfold from $32,500 per incident to $325,000. "It is well past the time that we clean-up our airwaves," said Upton back in 2004 as he worked with then-FCC chairman Michael Powell to boost the fines. "I am confident that, when broadcasters take a bigger hit in their wallets, they may think twice about indecency on the airwaves."
"I have fought to curb indecency in public broadcasting [by which he meant both commercial and noncoms] with the passage of the Brownback/Upton Broadcast Indecency Enforcement Act of 2005," Upton told Boehner as part of his effort to establish his conservative bona fides.
Upton said in his letter to Boehner that his is a conservative agenda, that he will work to repeal the Obama healthcare bill, oppose federally funded abortion, and conduct rigorous oversight, and that "the job-killing policies of Obama and [current speaker Nancy] Pelosi end here."
Barton has been positioning Upton, his chief rival for the chairmanship, as a moderate, while saying he himself has been a "consistent conservative."
In his letter, which had Boehner's current title of Minority Leader crossed out and "Mr. Speaker!" added in pen, Upton asked for his support for the chairmanship, saying he was a consistent team player with a strong vision for the committee.
Upton has already pledged his opposition to reclassifying broadband transmission as a Title II common carrier service as FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has suggested. Upton back in June called the proposal a "blind power grab," and suggested the FCC's regulatory compass was broken.