WASHINGTON May 17 Tom Wheeler, nominated to
become the new chairman of the Federal Communications
Commission, pledged to divest stakes in AT&T Inc, Dish
Network Corp, Google Inc and dozens of other
tech and telecoms companies if he is confirmed.
Divestments are common for nominees to avoid conflicts of
interest. Wheeler's plan was disclosed in an agreement posted
online by the Office of Government Ethics.
Wheeler is now a venture capital investor at Core Capital
Partners and chairs the FCC's Technology Advisory Council. In
the past, he ran the National Cable Television Association and
then the wireless industry group CTIA.
Within 90 days of being confirmed by the Senate as FCC
chairman, Wheeler plans to leave his investment company and
divest holdings in 78 companies. The investments include Apple
Inc, Microsoft Corp, China Mobile Ltd
, tactical radio maker Harris Corp, Windstream
Corp and media companies Liberty Media Corp,
News Corp, Time Warner Inc and Time Warner
Wheeler will also drop investments in the four biggest U.S.
wireless operators: Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T,
Sprint Nextel Corp and Deutsche Telecom AG,
which owns T-Mobile.
Most of his shareholdings in each company were valued at
less than $15,000. However, documents showed his stakes in AT&T
and Verizon were worth between $500,000 and $1 million.
"I will divest these assets within 90 days of my
confirmation and will invest the proceeds in non-conflicting
assets," Wheeler wrote.
He also pledged that, until he is divested, he will not
"participate personally and substantially" on any matter that
might have a direct effect on those financial interests.
Wheeler will also resign as board chairman at SmartBrief
Inc, an online news service he co-founded, and as a board member
at Internet company EarthLink Inc. He will also quit
other positions he has at various organizations and foundations,
including the Foundation for the National Archives.
The Senate has yet to schedule confirmation hearings for
Wheeler. Friday is the last day for current FCC Chairman Julius
Genachowski, who is joining the Aspen Institute think tank.
Senior Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn will take over
as acting FCC chief until Wheeler's confirmation.
President Barack Obama has yet to nominate a new Republican
commissioner to replace Robert McDowell, who has also left the