April 18, 2019

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April 16, 2019

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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Announces He Will Not Serve Out Term under New Administration

On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), which has regulatory authority over the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), announced that Chairman Tom Wheeler plans to resign as of January 20, 2017, when President-Elect Trump is expected to be inaugurated.  Appointed in 2013 by President Obama, Chairman Wheeler’s term was not set to expire until 2018.  It is tradition, however, for a sitting chair whose term extends into a new presidential administration to resign when the new president is from the other political party.

Since his appointment in 2013, Chairman Wheeler oversaw the FCC’s efforts to expand the reach of the TCPA. These included the July 2015 Order that, among other things, cast a wide net in interpreting what technologies constitute an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”).  An ATDS cannot be used to call a cellular telephone number without the prior express consent (in written form for telemarketing calls) of the subscriber or customary user of the number.

The appointment of a new, presumably Republican, chair could signal a shift in the FCC’s approach to the TCPA. It remains to be seen who President-Elect Trump will select to replace Chairman Wheeler.  Commissioner Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Obama in 2012, is likely to be named as Acting Chairman and may receive consideration for the permanent role.

With Chairman Wheeler’s resignation and the expiration of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel’s term, only one Democrat, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, will remain. No more than three members of the same political party may be appointed to the five-person commission.  Should Commissioner Pai take over as chair, the president would be able to appoint another Republican to fill his current seat, but would be required to appoint a Democrat to fill the remaining seat.

Copyright 2019 K & L Gates

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Pamela Garvie, KL Gates Law Firm, Public Policy Attorney
Partner

Ms. Garvie represents transportation, media, retail, and other business clients before the Congress and federal agencies on issues dealing with economic, safety, and security regulation, advertising and programming restrictions, and taxes and trade.  She also provides customized intelligence and analysis to institutional investors and hedge funds on a broad range of federal legislative and regulatory activities that impact their investments.  Among other matters, she led the firm’s successful efforts to create federal funding programs in rail safety and...

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Andrew Glass, KL Gates Law Firm, Financial Litigation Attorney
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Mr. Glass is a partner resident in K&L Gates’ Boston office, and a member of the firm's Consumer Financial Services Litigation and Class Action Litigation Defense groups, with extensive experience in complex commercial litigation. Mr. Glass's practice focuses on the defense of federal and state class action litigation brought against consumer financial services, mortgage lending, and consumer credit institutions. These class actions concern challenges under federal statutes, including the Fair Housing Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, Truth in Lending Act, Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, state unfair and deceptive acts and practices statutes, and common law claims. He also represents consumer financial services institutions in government enforcement proceedings and individual litigation matters.

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Joseph C. Wylie II, KL Gates Law Firm, Commercial Litigation Attorney
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Mr. Wylie’s practice focuses on complex class-action defense and complex commercial litigation with a particular emphasis on consumer and securities matters. He represents clients in defending against a wide range of individual and class-action consumer claims, including consumer fraud actions and claims brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. He also represents investment advisers and mutual fund families in connection with government investigations and investor claims, including claims made under the Investment Company Act. Mr. Wylie also represents...

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Gregory Blace, KL Gates Law Firm, Class Action Litigation Attorney
Partner

Mr. Blase is a partner in the Boston office of K&L Gates where he is a member of the firm's Class Action Litigation Defense group. Mr. Blase has experience in complex commercial litigation, and has represented mortgage lenders, servicers and other financial institutions in class action and individual suits under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Truth in Lending Act, Fair Housing Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, and various state unfair and deceptive practices...

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Molly K. McGinley, KLGates Law Firm, Complex Litigation Attorney
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Molly K. McGinley concentrates her practice at K&L Gates in commercial litigation with a focus on complex litigation, including investment company litigation, securities litigation and consumer class action defense. Ms. McGinley is a member of the firm’s Securities and Transactional Litigation Practice and Class Action Litigation Defense Groups. Ms. McGinley has litigated in numerous state and federal jurisdictions, representing a broad range of clients, including small companies, Fortune 500 Companies and investment advisers. She has handled various commercial...

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