11 Government Speakers Back Out of CES Because of the Shutdown

FCC chairman Ajit Pai and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao among those canceling

Pai is missing CES for a second consecutive year. Getty Images
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

Not even the Consumer Electronics Show can escape the effects of the ongoing government shutdown. Nearly a dozen government speakers, including Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, will have to skip their speaking engagements at the annual tech convention this week in Las Vegas because of the shutdown, the conference’s organizers said.

Eleven speakers from the federal government, including staffers from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Homeland Security, will no longer be attending CES, where the tech world convenes each January to discuss industry developments and unveil their latest products.

“Because of the government shutdown, some of our scheduled government speakers at CES 2019 have alerted us that they must cancel their travel to the show,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES, in a statement.

“We urge attendees who planned to hear U.S. federal government speakers to check the sessions on the website to ensure those individuals are still speaking,” he added.

Among the other speakers to cancel were Federal Trade Commission Chairman Rohit Chopra, FTC Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, Food and Drug Administration associate director for digital health Bakul Patel and deputy director of the Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology at the EPA Barnes Johnson.

Brandon Bray, a physical scientist of sustainable materials management at the Environmental Protection Agency; Arun Verdury, director of biometrics technology engine at the Department of Homeland Security; André Hentz, deputy undersecretary for science and technology at DHS and Daniel Kaniewski, deputy administrator for resilience at the Federal Emergency Management Agency rounded out the list.

A spokesperson for the Consumer Technology Association told Adweek there were no planned substitutions to replace those speakers.

It’s the second year in a row Pai, a former telecom executive, is missing the conference as FCC chairman. In 2018, he cancelled an appearance at the convention after receiving death threats related to his repeal of net neutrality rules first implemented during the Obama administration.

@kelseymsutton kelsey.sutton@adweek.com Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.