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Stevens' Staffer Kurth Withdraws From FCC Bid

Senate Commerce committee staffer Christine Kurth, one of the leading candidates for nomination to the Federal Communications Commission, has withdrawn from consideration due to potential conflicts of interest with her husband's telecom consulting business.
Senate Commerce committee staffer Christine Kurth, one of the leading candidates for nomination to the Federal Communications Commission, has withdrawn from consideration due to potential conflicts of interest with her husband's telecom consulting business.

A press release issued Thursday from the office of Senate Commerce committee chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said Kurth's decision to withdraw her name from the FCC nominating process revolved around conflict-of-interest rules for the FCC. Had Kurth actually been nominated and confirmed as an FCC commissioner, those rules, the statement said, would have forced her husband to "cease work on behalf of his [telecom] clients," or for Kurth to recuse herself from some matters under FCC jurisdiction.

Instead, Kurth will continue to serve as deputy staff director for the Stevens-led committee, which is expected to accelerate its efforts to produce telecom regulation reform legislation this year.

Kurth's withdrawl may set off a scramble to find warm Republican bodies to fill both the current vacancy on the five-member commission (created by the departure of former chairman Michael Powell in March), and another one that will open up when current commissioner Kathleen Abernathy steps down as expected sometime this year.

The quest to select two new Republican commissioners may then become a political football, since any new appointees would require Senate confirmation. Current chairman Kevin Martin did not require Senate confirmation to take over the FCC's top job, since he was previously confirmed when he joined the FCC as commissioner in 2001.

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