Bloomberg News

Grassley Asks Falcone for Records of FCC, White House Contacts

October 06, 2011

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Republican asked Philip Falcone and his LightSquared wireless venture for records of contacts with the White House and U.S. regulators to put “questions of improper influence” to rest.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa made the request in letters to Falcone and LightSquared Chief Executive Officer Sanjiv Ahuja yesterday, requesting information about contacts with the Federal Communications Commission, White House, and Commerce Department. Seven House Republicans last month asked the White House for details of contacts with Falcone, citing concerns about possible political pressure on U.S. agencies over the billionaire’s wireless venture.

LightSquared, backed by $3 billion from Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund, wants to offer wholesale service through a network of base stations using airwaves previously reserved mainly for satellites. Makers and users of global- positioning system devices say LightSquared’s signals will disrupt navigation by planes, boats, tractors and automobiles.

“If Harbinger has nothing to hide and would like to put questions of improper influence at the FCC, Department of Commerce, and White House to rest, the public release of these communications would allow Congress and the American people to fully examine the facts and decide for themselves,” Grassley wrote in the letter to Falcone.

“LightSquared has received the letter and it is reviewing it,” Chris Stern, a company spokesman, said in an interview. Scott Tagliarino, a spokesman for New York-based Harbinger Capital Partners, said in an interview the firm is reviewing the letter and declined to comment further.

Grassley and Representative Thomas Petri, a Wisconsin Republican, said in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski last month that U.S. regulators should “resist political pressures” to approve LightSquared. The Reston, Virginia-based company needs FCC clearance to begin service.

--With assistance from Todd Shields in Washington. Editors: Michael Shepard, Romaine Bostick

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Engleman in Washington at eengleman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Shepard at mshepard7@bloomberg.net


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