The five members of the Federal Communications Commission were told to stay quiet about an investigation into whether a California cell phone company had defrauded the federal Lifeline, or "Obamaphone" program, out of millions of dollars until the federal agency could announce its plans to expand the program, one of the commissioners said Monday.
"I think it's an outrage, not just as a commissioner but as a citizen for this program to be administered the way it has been, overlooking the fraud and expanding it even further," Commissioner Ajit Pai, a Republican member of the group, told Fox News' "Fox & Friends" program
"I'm hoping that shining a light on their operations will encourage and the American people to take a closer look at this program," he continued. "There's a lot of fraud that's basically under wraps and that needs to come out into the open. This is only the tip of the iceberg, I expect."
Last week, the FCC released a Notice of Apparent Liability that accused cell phone provider Total Call Mobile, which provides the service in 19 states, of enrolling tens of thousands of duplicate accounts and collecting an estimated $9.7 million in subsidies from the Universal Service Fund since 2014, reports The Washington Free Beacon
The commission's five members voted unanimously for the notice, but Pai offered a partial dissent, and on Monday said that under the FCC's rules, he was prohibited from sharing nonpublic information.
And now that he considers himself a whistleblower, Pai said that there is "no love lost" for him in some parts of the FCC, but he's "been encouraged by some of the statements" from Americans that he's heard.
FCC spokesman Will Wiquist
told Fox News over the weekend that the timing for the information block was coincidental and not related to the vote to modernize the Lifeline program.
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