FCC commissioner-turned-Comcast-lobbyist offers helpful reminder of how our system works

Meredith Attwell Baker takes corporate job months after approving merger with NBC as government regulator

Really, is there anything anyone could add to this -- an explanation, some insight -- that could possibly make what is happening here more obvious? I don't think so.

Devoted public servant and Federal Communications Commission member Meredith Attwell Baker is returning to the private sector! She's done her duty for our country since 2004 and it's time to step aside and give others that same opportunity.

(Also see: Google-ITA antitrust case example of questionable system)

Fortunately, Baker has made many solid connections during her time in Washington, including that fun gang at Comcast, whose controversial merger with NBC was approved earlier this year by the FCC by a 4-1 vote, with Baker among the enthusiastic majority.

That was way back in January, but do you know what? The nice people at Comcast who helped Baker persuade other board members that the NBC merger would "bring exciting benefits to consumers" still remembered her! And they must have liked the cut of Baker's jib, because they went and offered her a lobbying job! Which works out perfect because Baker's FCC term ends on June 3 and they're not hiring at any of the Lowe's in northern Virginia.

Baker says she will "forever be grateful" to the "wonderful" FCC colleagues with whom she worked for less than two years, and she's undoubtedly excited about her new foray into the "private sector." So much so that, in her press release announcing her resignation, Baker totally forgot to mention she was leaving the government for a job with Comcast:

After seven years of public service, I sent a letter to President Obama this afternoon thanking him for the distinct honor of serving on the Federal Communications Commission and informing him of my intention to leave the Commission on June 3, 2011.

I am privileged to have had the opportunity to serve the country at a time of critical transformation in the telecommunications industry. The continued deployment of our broadband infrastructures will meaningfully impact the lives of all Americans. I am happy to have played a small part in this success.

Happier than ever these days, I'd say.

I depart most proud of our collective efforts to focus on long-term comprehensive spectrum reform. It is the most important step we can take to ensure our nation’s competitiveness in an increasingly interconnected world.

We could use some reform, all right.

Meanwhile, Comcast issued a statement about Baker's hiring:

Meredith Attwell Baker will join Comcast as Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, NBCUniversal.

Kyle McSlarrow, President of Comcast/NBCUniversal for Washington, DC, said, "Commissioner Baker is one of the nation’s leading authorities on communications policy and we’re thrilled she’s agreed to head the government relations operations for NBCUniversal. Meredith’s executive branch and business experience along with her exceptional relationships in Washington bring Comcast and NBCUniversal the perfect combination of skills."

No one could doubt that. With her vast experience as a tough-minded federal commissioner, Baker will be able to help Comcast navigate the treacherous regulatory waters of Washington, D.C.

Even better, now she'll get a chance to help her former colleagues back at the FCC understand that whatever Comcast wants to do is in the public's best interests. She might even have an opportunity in her new Comcast job to help the government write some really good new laws! Serving the public once again!

Always remember, when large corporations work with government regulators who really, really understand their special needs and challenges, freedom wins.

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