Robert M. McDowell was first appointed to a seat on the Federal Communications Commission by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2006. When he was reappointed to the Commission on June 2, 2009, Commissioner McDowell became the first Republican to be appointed to an independent agency by President Barack Obama. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on June 25, 2009.
During his time at the FCC, Commissioner McDowell has worked to help consumers in the communications marketplace enjoy the benefits of more choices, lower prices and useful innovations through increased competition. Creating opportunities for the construction of new delivery platforms that will bring about such competition has been one of his top priorities.
Commissioner McDowell brings to the FCC approximately sixteen years of private sector experience in the communications industry. Immediately prior to joining the FCC, Commissioner McDowell was senior vice president for the Competitive Telecommunications Association (CompTel), an association representing competitive facilities-based telecommunications service providers and their supplier partners. There he had responsibilities involving advocacy efforts before Congress, the White House and executive agencies. He has served on the North American Numbering Council (NANC) and on the board of directors of North American Numbering Plan Billing and Collection, Inc. (NBANC).
Prior to joining CompTel in February 1999, McDowell served as the executive vice president and general counsel of America's Carriers Telecommunications Association (ACTA), which merged with CompTel at that time.
McDowell was graduated cum laude from Duke University in 1985. After serving as chief legislative aide to a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, he attended the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary. Upon his graduation from law school, McDowell joined the Washington, D.C., office of the national law firm of Arter & Hadden.
His involvement in civic and political affairs spans four decades. He was appointed by Virginia Governor George Allen to the Governor's Advisory Board for a Safe and Drug-Free Virginia, and to the Virginia Board for Contractors where he served for eight years. A veteran of several presidential campaigns, his work during the 1992 presidential campaign is cited in the Almanac of American Politics, 1994. Among many other endeavors, McDowell has twice been a candidate for the Virginia General Assembly. He is a former Chairman of the Board of the McLean Project for the Arts, which strives to connect emerging artists with communities in the Washington region.
McDowell is admitted to practice law before the courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia, First, Fourth and Fifth Circuits and the U.S. Supreme Court. He resides in Fairfax County, Va., on what's left of the farm where he grew up, with his wife Jennifer and their three children.