WASHINGTON, DC – The American Accountability Foundation (AAF), a leading government watchdog organization, has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). AAF is concerned that powerful political figures, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), media mogul Byron Allen, and other outside interests involved in the transaction review process exerted undue influence on FCC officials evaluating the transaction involving TEGNA Inc., Standard General, and CMG Media Corporation. The FCC is an independent agency and the American people expect it to behave that way – free from political cronyism and favoritism. Unfortunately, it appears this transaction review was marred by well-heeled special interests attempting to submarine the deal for their own personal financial benefit. The intent of the FOIA request is to bring more transparency to a widely criticized and controversial FCC decision. As The Wall Street Journal editorial board reported, the FCC took unprecedented action to block the Standard General-TEGNA transaction by designating it for an administrative hearing without a vote of the full Commission. AAF President Tom Jones stated, “The American people’s distrust of government is at an all-time high. The process by which the FCC reviewed this transaction has been widely criticized and for good reason. Our FOIA request will help shed light on what really happened and why the FCC process went so far off-the-rails. Let’s hope our nation’s television airwaves aren’t for sale to politically connected media moguls and disingenuous lawyers who failed to disclose multiple conflicts of interest.”
AAF has filed a FOIA request seeking records of communications of FCC Media Bureau Director Holly Saurer, deal opponents including former Speaker Pelosi, Senator Elizabeth Warren, David Goodfriend and Andrew Schwartzman, and other parties involved in this transaction to get to the bottom of this growing controversy. We demand full transparency, and if the FCC have nothing to hide, they will fully respond to our FOIA request. AAF is committed to holding the FCC accountable to federal taxpayers they serve. A copy of AAF’s Freedom of Information Act Request can be found here.