FCC Chairman Ajit Pai declined to accept a gun award from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the American Conservative Union (ACU) that was presented to him at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Spokesmen for the FCC and the ACU both confirmed to The Hill that Pai had turned down the award, which came in the form of a handmade rifle, after consulting with agency ethics officials.
“As you know, once my staff became aware of what was happening, they asked backstage that the musket not be presented to me to ensure that this could be first discussed with and vetted by career ethics attorneys in the FCC’s Office of General Counsel,” Pai wrote in letters to the NRA and ACU on Thursday, according to Politico, which first reported the news.
“Therefore, upon their counsel, I must respectfully decline the award,” he continued. “I have also been advised by the FCC’s career ethics attorneys that I would not be able to accept the award upon my departure from government service.”
Pai said he was surprised last Friday when presented the “Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire” award onstage at the right-wing summit last week. The award is typically given to conservatives who have weathered heavy criticism for their beliefs.
The regulator has faced backlash for his efforts to repeal his agency’s net neutrality rules, which require internet service providers to give all web traffic equal footing. In January, he was forced to cancel an appearance at a popular consumer electronics convention after reportedly receiving death threats.
And in December, the FCC’s vote to dismantle the rules was interrupted when law enforcement evacuated the agency’s hearing room to respond to an anonymous bomb threat.
“Ajit Pai is the most courageous, heroic person that I know,” Dan Schneider, the executive director of the ACU, said while introducing Pai onstage at CPAC.
“He has received countless death threats. His property has been invaded by the George Soros crowd. He has a family, and his family has been abused in different ways. Chairman Pai, thank you for everything you’ve done.”