Roll Call reports:
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who made his initial fortune during the Internet boom a decade ago, is now backing away from an anti-net-neutrality letter that he signed last week.
Polis began soliciting co-signers Tuesday for a new letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski that asks the agency “to join us in our effort to ensure that it remains an open-access network” when the FCC begins writing rules this week on the contentious issue.
“We believe that the proposed rules enhance the FCC’s historic commitment to competition and innovation, and are necessary to ensure that internet users can go to any legal web site and access any legal online service that they choose,” Polis writes in the draft. “The internet is one of humanity’s greatest cultural achievements and the most powerful infrastructure for free speech and innovation.”
Polis’ apparent change of heart is in marked contrast to an anti-net-neutrality letter that he signed off on last week along with 71 other House Members…
“We write to express both our hopes and concerns related to upcoming [FCC] proceedings focused on the deployment and use of broadband networks,” Members wrote in the first letter. “As the FCC embarks on its much-anticipated rule making addressing the subject of ‘net neutrality,’ we therefore urge the commission to carefully consider the full range of potential consequences that government action may have on network investment.”
Not too different from his eyebrow-raising statements on health care reform a couple of months ago, Rep. Jared Polis was forced into a full-scale backpedal after he signed onto a letter that was (sorry, no debate here) obviously intended to attack net neutrality proposals presently under consideration. In subsequent comments at Daily Kos and other “netroots” venues, Polis has denied that the original letter was ever intended as an attack on the principle of net neutrality.
Unfortunately, nobody involved with the issue bought that for a minute. This is a bigger problem for Polis than it is for others who signed the original letter–Polis heavily courted the “netroots” during his run for office, and net neutrality is one of their biggest issues. Said one influential net neutrality activist in response to Polis’ ‘surprise’ at taking heat, “perhaps you should have thought twice before signing on to a letter that was orchestrated by the phone and cable lobby to be a warning shot across the bow of FCC commissioners.” To try to claim that the letter somehow didn’t say what it plainly said…well, these activists know better and they don’t appreciate being patronized.
Having already upset this influential base of support with his string of regrettable comments about health care, Polis surely didn’t need this gaffe. We’re not saying he’s in real career-threatening political trouble, but he’d be foolish to think people aren’t paying attention.