I was recently in an argument with someone who claimed that Obama put Aji Pal as the chairman, which isn't true, but he did put him as one of five commissioners. And I thought, why would Obama do this?
Looking up the rules for commissioners, at least part of the story was uncovered by requirements for two commissioners out of the 5 to be not from the president's party. But that doesn't explain why they needed to be republican exactly, or why they Aji Pal needed to be one of those commissioners.
According to a few news sites, the claim is that Mitch McConnell recommended Aji Pal to the president. But that alone doesn't seem to be a problem since democrats had a majority, though I don't know if it was enough (60) at the time he was nominated.
A few news sites went further:
and claimed it was actually tradition that the minority leader of the senate provide two nominees for the majority to accept for commissioner.
Rather, there’s a tradition of letting the minority party pick two commissioners, since the majority can only legally hold three seats; in nominating Pai — at the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican — Obama was sticking to that tradition.
Starks was nominated to the FCC by President Trump on the advice of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). By tradition, the president appoints opposite-party commissioners based on recommendations from the opposing party.
The problem is I'm having a hard time finding any other news site that claims this, though it certainly is believable. I can't even google for this kind of thing, I'm getting nothing terribly relevant to nominations for the FCC.
Is there actually a long standing tradition of accepting nominee suggestions from the opposite parties leadership?