Senator blasts FCC chief for sucking up to Trump and 'alt-right activists'


Ajit Pai had to face the music from Sen. Pat Leahy.

On Thursday morning, Trump Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai got an earful from Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) for forgetting that he's supposed to serve all Americans, not just Trump and his base.

"I think you've shown contempt for the American people through your decisions," Leahy told Pai at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing.

Leahy then tore into Pai over a number of issues, including his gutting of net neutrality in the face of overwhelming public opposition, his loosening of ownership rules to benefit Trump-allied Sinclair Broadcasting, and the nastiness with which Pai has handled those who disagree with him.

"Too many people in the administration sometimes forget they serve all Americans, not just one person," Leahy said. "Perhaps appearances at partisan political events and posting insulting videos with alt-right activists will ingratiate you to president Trump, but I think we have to remember, Democrats and Republicans, everybody else, we serve a higher call, and that's the American people."

Leahy is referring to Pai's attendance the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and participation in a video that featured alt-right linked personality Martina Markota. Pai has also openly mocked one of his fellow commissioners and joked about being a "puppet" for telecommunications companies.

And as Leahy noted, Pai's policies have been as bad, or worse. In December, he voted to repeal Obama-era regulations that protected Americans from having their internet content censored by telecommunications companies, despite near-universal revulsion at the idea.

Pai received another strong rebuke this week when Leahy and his fellow Democrats, along with three Republicans, passed a resolution to restore the net neutrality rules. Because of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), Democrats were able to pass the measure with a simple majority, rather than having to overcome a 60-vote filibuster threshold.

Senator Leahy also took Trump EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to task at a hearing this week over Pruitt's expensive air travel and security habits.

Democrats like Leahy are doing their best to hold Trump and his administration accountable, but they will be far better equipped for that task if they can take back the Congress in November. And it's looking more and more each day like they will.