Hold everything, Dingell tells Martin


WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the House Commerce Committee has warned FCC officials that he will tolerate no shenanigans with documents and other correspondence that could become evidence in the lawmakers' investigation of the agency's business.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., ordered chairman Kevin Martin and other FCC employees "to immediately preserve all electronic records, including work e-mail and personal e-mail communications relating to official work of the commission, and calendars and schedules of all employees (and paper copies and versions of those records)."

Martin is to inform all FCC employees of "their right to communicate with Congress and that it is against the law to deny or interfere with their rights to furnish information to Congress," Dingell wrote the chairman in a letter.

Investigators don't think Martin is attempting to impede the investigation, Commerce Committee staffers told The Reporter; the letter is meant as show just how serious Dingell and the rest of the committee are about the probe into the commission's practices under Martin.

There have been accusations that Martin has suppressed the views within the commission that run contrary to his. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., once accused him of attempting to "stifle" a report critical of Martin's views on media concentration.

Democratic commissioners have complained that the chairman often gives them no time to read the final rule changes on which they vote.

Dingell contends that the commission's lack of respect for the rules of government is becoming a danger. "When that openness and transparency is compromised, so too is public confidence in the agency," he said on Dec. 3.