Open Web Activists Applaud Rep. Eshoo’s Victory on Capitol Hill

The pro-regulatory lawmaker beat out Rep. Bobby Rush for key tech position.

By Jamilah King Jan 21, 2011

Open Internet advocates scored a big victory Thursday when Rep. Anna Eshoo won a key tech leadership post in Congress. The Democratic lawmaker represents Silicon Valley and defeated Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush to become the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communication and Technology.

Rush is a veteran lawmakers and former Black Panther who had recently been criticized for his connections to the telecommunications industry. The Chicago-based politician was backed by the Congressional Black Caucus and had helped lead the congressional charge against net neutrality, slyly noting at one point that the fight to keep an open Internet was "a solution in search of a problem."

When some advocates, led in part by James Rucker at Color of Change, questioned Rush’s ability to objectively oversee the committee charged with deciding the country’s tech policy, Rush shot back, saying "When an organization rents a Silicon Valley glass house, they ought to be careful about throwing stones."

But the evidence was pretty clear. Sam Gustin writes at Wired that during his XX-long congressional career, Rush has gotten over $78,000 from AT&T, along with over $43,000 by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and an additional $42,000 from Verizon, according to the Center for Responsive Ethics.

Eshoo won the race in a 14-9 decision. She’s one of eight Democrats currently on the committee, which has a total of 15 members. And while the new Republican House majority has spoken out loudly against net neutrality, and Verizon has already issued a challenge to the already shaky rules, any attempts to roll back the FCC’s recently passed rules would need to go through Eshoo. And if her record is any indication, Eshoo won’t budge.