A cluster of conservative groups is echoing the position of
broadcasters in urging FCC restraint on its plan for widespread unlicensed
transmissions on the “white spaces” between DTV channels.
Various groups—including a backer of a
federal flat tax and one with a front-page story claiming Barack Obama would
not qualify for an FBI security clearance—signed on to a letter urging more
transparency at the FCC on the white space issue; a second later, signed by a
different combination of groups, urges an auction of the frequencies. Both
letters echo the NAB's position that the FCC should open the proposed rules
NAB has recommended white space use at lower power levels
and with more restrictions than FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has proposed. A vote
on the matter is scheduled at the FCC for Nov. 4, Election Day.
The groups signing the letters are little-known outside
conservative advocacy circles in Washington.
In a joint press release, they call themselves “more than 20 public interest,
public policy and government watchdog groups,” although its unclear how, for
example, Background Checks International Inc., falls into those categories.
At least one of the groups on the list—the Government Accountability
Project, a whistle-blower advocacy group, does not appear to have a
conservative or libertarian bent.
Among the libertarian-leaning groups are the Center for
Privacy and Human Rights (founded 2005), run by a former staffer of U.S. Rep.
Ron Paul, R-Texas, a candidate for president and former libertarian. Another
group, the Liberty Coalition, also stresses privacy and civil rights.
Among the other groups:
* The American
Civil Rights Union has two main themes at the front of its Web page—“outrages”
of the American Civil Liberties Union, and the issue of voter fraud.
* The American
Legislative Exchange Council has been described by the lefty People for the
American Way as "a right-wing public policy organization with strong ties
to major corporations, trade associations and right-wing politicians" with
an agenda that "includes rolling back civil rights, challenging government
restrictions on corporate pollution, limiting government regulations of
commerce, privatizing public services, and representing the interests of the
corporations that make up its supporters."
* Let Freedom
Ring raises concern about Islamic influence in the international banking
system and includes on its Web site an interview with a
former FBI assistant director who says Obama would not be granted an FBI
* The Media
Freedom Project (not to be confused with the pro-white space Media Access Project)
advocates against net neutrality and against rules restricting media
consolidation. It’s a project of Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform,
which also signed the letters and advocates a national flat tax.
* Frontiers of
Freedom, based in Fairfax, Va.,
calls Obama “the American Gorbachev” and warns on its front page, “Obama
apologizes for America’s
prosperity, liberty and greatness. Obama also wants to redistribute the wealth
to his partisans as a reward for their support of him both at home and abroad.”
Institute for Liberty
says its fights “petty tyrannies of government.” Its front page celebrates the
candidacy of Sarah Palin, and its past efforts have included a demand that the
government send a “thank-you note” to taxpayers.
* The 60 Plus Association
calls itself a conservative alternative to AARP. AARP calls the group a front
for pharmaceutical companies.
* The National
Defense Council Foundation shares its chairman, James L. Martin, with the 60
Plus Association, where he is president.
Competitive Enterprise Institute (not to be confused with the conservative
American Enterprise Institute) boasts a $5 million budget and 30 staffers. Its
small-government advocacy includes work expressing doubt that humans are causing global climate
for Prosperity is run by Art Pope, heir to Variety Wholesalers Inc., a
400-plus-outlet retail company. Pope is also a former Republican congressman
from North Carolina.
* The Capital Research Center
is a watchdog of nonprofit, union and philanthropic activity. Its two top
staffers are alums of the conservative Heritage Institute.
* The Rule of
Law Committee is run by William Shaker, co-founder of The Washington Group,
which claims to have raised $12 million for the presidential campaign of
Republican Allan Keyes in 2000.