The Competitive Enterprise Institute is part of the dark-money funded network of think thanks that lead the charge to deny the scientific consensus on climate change; funded by a mix of money from the tobacco industry, the hydrocarbon lobby, booze companies, and similar interests.
CEI is pretty indiscriminate in their press mailouts (I can attest, based on the spam I get from them on a regular basis). The latest communique from the group takes credit for killing Net Neutrality as a sequel to claiming credit for killing the Paris Climate Accord ("It was a huge victory! Think about it. The well-funded environmental Left lost. You won.").
The new email solicits donations in bitcoin.
At the same time, a Motherboard Freedom of Information request has yielde a trove of internal documents from the independent, nonpartisan FCC Office of Inspector General, who were ordered by Congressional Republicans to investigate the claim that Obama improperly interfered with the 2015 FCC Title II/Net Neutrality order. This claim -- that Net Neutrality is "Obamacare for the internet" -- was key to the GOP and telcom industry's misinformation campaign about Net Neutrality.
That's the FCC is only legally allowed to act in response to evidence. The 2015 Title II order came after a lengthy, exhaustive evidentiary process that included hearings, expert commentary, a public comment period, and so on. The Ajit Pai order killing Net Neutrality took place without any of these niceties, and was only possible because Pai ordered that tens of millions of public comments would be thrown away, unread. This leaves the FCC vulnerable to a lawsuit that could roll back the Neutrality-killing order on the basis that it wasn't based on a proper evidentiary footing.
So claiming that the 2015 order didn't have a good evidentiary basis is key to making the new order stick -- it wasn't undertaken in a vacuum of evidence; rather, Pai claims that it corrected the 2015's improper passage.
Sadly for Pai and his allies, this is simply untrue. As the independent FCC auditor told the Senate, after reviewing 600,000 internal emails: "We found no evidence of secret deals, promises, or threats from anyone outside the Commission, nor any evidence of any other improper use of power to influence the FCC decision-making process."
Reality has a well-known left-wing bias, and that's why the Trump agenda can only proceed when the phrase "evidence-based" is officially purged from policy circles.
What the Inspector General found, then, were career public servants doing their job: “Nothing in these, or in any other emails appeared to indicate there was pressure to delay the Order from the December meeting from any source other than concerned FCC staffers,” the report found, adding that there was “no indication” that a draft of the net neutrality regulations had been circulated improperly.
Wheeler maintained through the whole process that Obama’s public statement had been entered into the public comment alongside comments by telecom companies, nonprofits, and millions of concerned citizens: “We will incorporate the President’s submission into the record of the Open Internet proceeding,” Wheeler said. The IG report noted that “while one could reasonably challenge the Chairman’s claim … our investigation has found no evidence to refute it.”
Since 2014, Republicans have pointed to net neutrality as an idea primarily promoted by President Obama, and have made it another in a long line of regulations and laws that they have sought to repeal now that Donald Trump is president. Prior to this false narrative, though, net neutrality was a bipartisan issue; the first net neutrality rules were put in place under President George W. Bush, and many Republicans worked on the 2015 rules that were just dismantled.
Internal FCC Report Shows Republican Net Neutrality Narrative Is False [Jason Koebler/Motherboard]
Climate deniers taking credit for net neutrality defeat [Bruce Sterling/Beyond the Beyond]