Ajit Pai, the boss of America's communications watchdog, the FCC, says he won't be picking the collectable rifle awarded to him by the NRA as a prize for killing net neutrality.
Pai has informed both the NRA and the American Conservative Union, which hosted the CPAC conference where Pai was given the award, of his decision, via letter, according to political sources today.
The FCC chairman was given a handmade Kentucky long gun as part of the Charlton Heston Courage award, an honor firearms lobbyists at the NRA hand out to those who have "stood up under pressure with grace and dignity and principled discipline."
In giving Pai the award, the NRA and CPAC referenced his work to overturn the FCC's Title II classifications and dismantle America's net neutrality safeguards.
At the time, Pai could not receive the gun, as CPAC had a strict no firearms policy at its event. Now, it seems, he won't be able to come and get the gun out of safe-keeping at the NRA's museum in Virginia.
We're told Pai is not turning down the gun for any political reason, but rather because of FCC ethics rules. US law generally forbids government officials from taking gifts of more than $200 without the approval of an ethics official – in this case, the FCC's lawyer.
In a statement, Pai will tell the two groups that his legal eagles have advised him not to take the showpiece firearm, as it would potentially be an ethics violation.
"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 in his statement. ®