Pai was given the Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award for the public kickback and targeted threats he received for repealing Obama-era net neutrality rules. The award included a Kentucky handmade long gun, which Pai has since declined to collect at the NRA’s museum where it is being held.
In a letter sent to the NRA and the American Conservative Union, which is the group that organizes CPAC, Pai said he was “surprised” by the award and said he would not be able to accept it, citing advice of ethics officials at the FCC, according to a Politico report.
“Therefore, upon their counsel, I must respectfully decline the award,” Pai wrote in his letter, according to an FCC source who relayed the text of the letters. “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.”
According to The Washington Examiner, senior director and general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center Larry Nobel said government ethics rules would generally prevent FCC officials from accepting awards worth more than $200 without written clearance from their agency’s ethics officials.