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'Revolving Door Keeps Spinning': Former FCC Head Hired By Carlyle Group

'Julius Genachowski isn't the first FCC chairman to take this path. I wish I could say he would be the last'

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

In the words of Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron, "The revolving door never seems to stop spinning at the Federal Communications Commission."

Just half a year after resigning his 4-year post as chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski has joined the famously shadowy private equity firm Carlyle Group, known by some as the "ex-presidents' club."

Genachowski will "focus on investments in global technology, media and telecom, including Internet and mobile," reads a Carlyle Group statement released Monday announcing Genachowski's position.

Critics expressed dismay that the road from government to private industry is being trod once again.

"It's too bad that so many treat their years of public service as just a stepping stone to a bigger paycheck," Aaron told Common Dreams. "Julius Genachowski isn't the first FCC chairman to take this path. I wish I could say he would be the last."

Genachowski, 51, is a former college and lawschool classmate of President Barack Obama and was groomed by the president for his powerful position at the head of the FCC.

Critics charge that, despite promises to steer the FCC in a different direction from the George W. Bush administration, Genachowski did not adequately stand up to corporate power and abuse of consumers, oversaw a rise in broadband prices, and fell short of pursuing strong protections for net neutrality.

"While there were a few bright moments during the Genachowski years — including the agency’s opposition to the AT&T/T-Mobile merger and the push for more online transparency from broadcasters — the chairman squandered many more opportunities at critical junctures," Aaron declared in a previous statement.

Carlyle group, which has made a fortune off of investments in the defense and arms industries, owns a majority share of military contractor Booz Allen Hamilton—former employer of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Its history of politically-connected advisers includes former US president George Bush Sr, former British prime minister Sir John Major, and former prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra. Genachowski is not the first former FCC head to join the firm: Former FCC chairman of 8 years, William E. Kennard, joined Carlyle Group after leaving the commission in 2001.

As William Alden points out in The New York Times, Genachowski "follows a well-worn path" from government to lucrative private industry. Alden writes, "Timothy F. Geithner, a former Treasury secretary, is joining the private equity firm Warburg Pincus as president. Last year, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts hired David H. Petraeus, a retired four-star general who resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 2012, as chairman of the KKR Global Institute."


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