Congress tells the FCC to retain e-mail records

[Bloomberg News]

The Federal Communications Commission was told by members of Congress to preserve electronic records for legislators investigating decision-making at the agency.

The request came in a letter from the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which last month said it would look into whether FCC procedures are fair, open and transparent.

The agency has drawn scrutiny over its Dec. 18 decisions to relax media-ownership rules and tighten controls over the cable industry in the face of opposition from Republicans and Democrats in Congress. In November, Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, was accused by Democrats on the panel of manipulating data meant to justify greater cable oversight.

"We expect to issue a comprehensive document request in the near future," said the letter signed by Michigan Democratic Rep. John Dingell, the committee's chairman, and Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican. "The committee believes that added steps should be taken to ensure the full cooperation of all FCC employees."

The lawmakers told Martin to notify agency employees they have a right to communicate with Congress. It asked him to preserve "all electronic records, including work e-mail and personal e-mail communications relating to official work of the commission."

A copy of the letter was e-mailed to reporters by committee staff.

The FCC had no comment on today's letter, said Clyde Ensslin, an agency spokesman.

In response to an earlier inquiry from Dingell, Martin said the commission's document-retention policy was "substantially" unchanged from past FCC practices.

article originally published at http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-wed_fcc_0109jan09,0,3350332.story?col....

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey