Democratic members of Congress want to know when Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai knew that the FCC’s claims about being hit by a DDoS attack were false.
An FCC Inspector General (IG) investigation found that the FCC lied to members of Congress multiple times in letters that answered questions about DDoS attacks that never happened.
Today, four Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Pai “demanding to know when he and his staff learned that the Commission had provided inaccurate information about why its comment system went down during the net neutrality repeal public comment period,” the Democrats said in an announcement.
The FCC’s lies to Congress were contained in letters Pai sent to lawmakers but were based on the assertions of former FCC CIO David Bray, the IG’s report said. Pai has claimed that the IG report proves that he did nothing wrong, but House Democrats want to know exactly when Pai found out that Bray’s statements about DDoS attacks were false.
“[T]he IG found that you made a series of misrepresentations to Congress about the event, which were corrected for the first time in the IG’s Report,” the Democrats wrote in their letter to Pai.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia declined to prosecute anyone at the FCC even though making false statements to Congress can be punished with fines or imprisonment.
“Wanton disregard for Congress and the public”
The letter to Pai was sent today by Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Mike Doyle (D-Penn.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.). They wrote:
Given the significant media, public, and Congressional attention this alleged cyberattack received for over a year, it is hard to believe that the release of the IG’s Report was the first time that you and your staff realized that no cyberattack occurred. Such ignorance would signify a dereliction of your duty as the head of the FCC, particularly due to the severity of the allegations and the blatant lack of evidence. Therefore, we want to know when you and your staff first learned that the information the Commission shared about the alleged cyberattack was false.
It is troubling that you allowed the public myth created by the FCC to persist and your misrepresentations to remain uncorrected for over a year. This is despite repeated requests by members of this Committee—as recently as July 25, 2018 in our oversight hearing—to provide additional information documenting the purported cyberattack. To the extent that you were aware of the misrepresentations prior to the release of the Report and failed to correct them, such actions constitute a wanton disregard for Congress and the American public.
The Democrats’ letter then asks a series of more specific questions, including the following:
The Democrats asked Pai for complete written responses by August 28.
We asked Pai’s office about the Democrats’ letter today and will update this story if we get a response. Pai is also scheduled to appear in front of the Senate Commerce Committee Thursday for an FCC oversight hearing, where he is expected to face questions about the IG’s report.