As ThinkProgress has previously documented, many of the likely Republican heads of House committees in the new Congress have deep ties to lobbyists and corporate interests. On the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) — who is infamous for apologizing to oil giant BP for government effots to hold it accountable following the company’s oil spill in the Gulf Coast — is in line to become Chairman.
One of Barton’s likely new colleagues on the committee is Rep.-elect Charlie Bass (R-NH), who defeated progressive Ann Kuster to return to Congress after a four year hiatus as an energy consultant. The National Journal reports today that one industry lobbyist who remembers Bass as a net neutrality skeptic and a “strong supporter of industry” says that Bass has the “best case” to get back on the committee he served on for six years:
Charlie Bass, a Republican who defeated Ann McLane Kuster on Tuesday to win back his post as House Representative of New Hampshire’s second district, is a likely candidate for the Energy and Commerce Committee in the 112th Congress.
Bass, who served in the House from 1995 to 2006, spent six years on the Energy and Commerce panel. From 2003 to 2006, he served on the Communications subcommittee.
Given his experience, “I’m pretty sure he has the best case to get back on the Committee,” said an industry lobbyist, who also remembered Bass to be a “strong supporter of industry,” and “skeptical of net neutrality.”
As Blue Hampshire notes, “Bass collected over $36,000 in campaign contributions from the energy industry including the Nuclear Energy Institute, the American Gas Association and the Amercian Electric Power PAC. He received another $34,000 from the communications and electronics industry including donations from AT&T, DirectTV, and Verizon.”
During Bass’s previous terms in Congress he was instrumental in crafting the 2005 energy bill that included huge giveaways to the energy industry. Additionally, Bass was one of seventeen Republicans and six Democrats who voted down strong net neutrality protections drafted in the House Telecom Subcommittee.
Net neutrality is more endangered than ever following the recent election. Every single House or Senate candidate who signed the Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s pledge to protect net neutrality lost last week. That a major net neutrality opponent who wins praise and campaign donations from industry lobbyists is poised to return to a committee where he repeatedly stood against the interests of consumers just four years earlier should be troubling for all who want a fair and free internet.