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Back on the Bush Team

Wednesday, December 1, 2004; 9:40 AM

Few of the fresh crop of nominees that the Senate confirmed last week to key technology-related positions are novices in the ways of Washington. Of the five presented here, all have government experience. The mix unsurprisingly favors Republicans, but a few unabashed liberals made the cut in an attempt, observers say, to show Democrats that the administration is maintaining a spirit of cooperation.

Deborah P. Majoras, a Republican, was confirmed as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. She has acted as the commission's director since August, when Timothy J. Muris resigned. Majoras formerly worked as an antitrust attorney at the law firm Jones Day and was a deputy U.S. attorney general.

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Among Majoras's goals, which she detailed in a Nov. 18 speech, are patent reform and a revamping of the corporate merger review process. She also said the FTC will examine Internet piracy and music and movie file-sharing services (a workshop is scheduled for next week), and continue to find ways to fight the spread of unwanted bulk e-mail, or spam.

Arriving hand-in-hand with Majoras is Jon Leibowitz, the newest FTC commissioner. Leibowitz served as Democratic chief counsel and staff director for the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee as well as chief counsel to its ranking Democrat, Herb Kohl (D-Wis.). Leibowitz also worked for the Motion Picture Association of America as congressional liaison.

"He knows Congress well on both sides of the aisle. He can hit the ground running," former MPAA president Jack Valenti said.

Leibowitz already has spoken out on junk e-mail, calling for a sound technological approach to stopping spam, and doing it in a style that brings some much-needed informality and -- surprise -- humor. Note the CVS line in this recent speech at the FTC's spam summit, as well as his staffer's inability to send an e-mail labeled "spam summit" because of her e-mail filter.

Over at the Federal Communications Commission, Jonathan Adelstein learned that he will stay on board as commissioner at least until mid-2008. Adelstein is a former staffer to outgoing Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), as well as incoming leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). His history with Reid as well as his rural background stood him in good stead with many telecom industry lobbyists and rural Republican senators despite his opposition to the Bush administration's policies on media ownership and several other issues, said Scott Cleland, chief executive of the Precursor Group in Washington.

Adelstein's renomination also shows that Republicans were willing to allow some Democratic nominees through after the minority side yielded to GOP demands to get some of President Bush's judicial nominees appointed. "The only thing that moves congress is crisis and Christmas. Things get done at the end of the year," Cleland said.

Some of the other nominees include:

Jon Dudas as director of the Patent and Trademark Office. Dudas has held the position since the departure of James Rogan, a former GOP congressman from California. Dudas was staff director on the House Judiciary Committee and counsel for the subcommittee on courts and intellectual property. Also on the subcommittee staff, incidentally, was Mitch Glazier, now a high-profile lobbyist for the Recording Industry Association of America.

Michael Gallagher as head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Gallagher once served as a Verizon state public policy vice president and also worked for tech lobbyist Rick White, a former GOP congressman from Washington state. He is the point man on developing a radio spectrum policy that will accomodate WiFi and "ultrawideband" communications as well as national defense needs.

Robert MacMillan, washingtonpost.com Tech Policy Editor


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