LightSquared Scandal Explodes

Obama photoAllegations that we first made in February about White House political favors for a company called LightSquared are starting to get the attention they deserve.

LightSquared is owned by the Harbinger Capital hedge fund, headed by billionaire investor Phil Falcone. He visited the White House and made large donations to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Soon after, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted LightSquared a highly unusual waiver that allows the company to build out a national 4G wireless network on the cheap.

The deal has been criticized not only for its ‘pay to play’ appearance but also because the LightSquared network would interfere with the part of the wireless spectrum that is used by Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

On its iwatch news website, the Center for Public Integrity published a blockbuster special report on Wednesday confirming that LightSquared “pressed its case… at times citing its fundraising for Democratic causes and President Obama…” The report by Fred Schulte and John Aloysius Farrell is based on 300 emails obtained by the authors under the Freedom of Information Act. The emails contradict repeated denials by LightSquared and the White House that the campaign contributions were related to the FCC action.

Meanwhile, the White House is facing accusations that it tried to pressure an Air Force general to change his testimony on the GPS interference issue. According to the Washington Post:

GOP staffers of the House strategic forces subcommittee accused the White House of trying to influence the testimony of an Air Force general who was speaking about the project’s potential to interfere with the Global Positioning System, the satellite network relied on by the military and private industry. The staffers said Gen. William Shelton revealed in an earlier closed meeting that the White House pressured him to include language in his testimony Thursday supporting LightSquared’s venture.

The accusation that Shelton was pressured came at the same time the White House was attempting to explain its role in the awarding of  $500-million loan guarantee to now-bankrupt Solyndra, in which billionaire Obama bundler George Kaiser was a major investor.

Media coverage and commentary has been extensive, typified by this observation by Chris Stirewalt writing on

First there was Fast and Furious, then there was Solyndra and now there is LightSquared — three high-level scandals that involve allegations of cover-ups inside the Obama administration.

For a president who is already dragging an unpopular agenda and low marks on his handling of the economy along the campaign trail, this scandal troika is seriously bad news.

On February 2, NLPC first made the allegation that Falcone’s campaign contributions helped grease the skids for the FCC action in a letter to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.


Obama Invested in Company That Got Sweet Deal From FCC (Fox Business Network video)

Will FCC’s Political Favor for LightSquared Result in GPS Interference?

Did Harbinger Hedge Fund Buy Influence With White House?; Probe Asked of FCC Spectrum Giveaway