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GORE DIDN'T OPEN ANY DOORS
In your article "Did Gore open a door?" (Government, Oct. 13), you allege that the Federal Communications Commission agreed to move next year from its current inadequate eight Washington locations to a single, consolidated building because of campaign contributions allegedly made in 1996 by one of the building's developers.
As the career civil-service executive in charge of the move of the FCC since 1989, I can report to you that this allegation is a patent falsehood.
You failed to acknowledge that the FCC does not have and has never had authority to lease its own buildings. All decisions about whether and where the FCC would consolidate to a single building are made by the General Services Administration (GSA) and Congress.
Second, since August, 1994, a court order and a GSA lease executed without the FCC's consent have committed the FCC to move to the new building. Third, the FCC's concern at all times since that date has been consistently focused on two goals: the need for enough space to house all of our employees under one roof, and the need for money to pay for the move, which our operating budget cannot cover.
FCC Chairman Reed E. Hundt testified to Congress on July 18, 1996--long after you allege the FCC stopped expressing concerns about the move because of a developer's political contribution (which no one at the FCC knew anything about). Hundt said that given the absence of money to pay for the move, "the FCC must seriously examine" ceasing participation in the project.
In 1996, GSA leased enough space for the agency, and in 1997 GSA agreed to pay for the FCC's move to the Portals out of its own funds.
Andrew S. Fishel
Federal Communications Commission
Editor's note: In 1994, neither the court order nor the lease committed the FCC to move to the Portals building. In an agreement accompanying the lease, the GSA pledged to "use vigorous efforts" to get the FCC to occupy the Portals.
Your article contains numerous inaccuracies and creates the wholly false impression that officials of the General Services Administration (GSA) entered into a lease agreement with Mr. Franklin L. Haney on unusual terms and conditions and that this agreement was somehow related to campaign contributions made by various companies controlled by Mr. Haney.
The article implies that GSA entered into a lease with unusual terms to accommodate Mr. Haney. That is not true. GSA entered into a lease with Parcel 49C Limited Partnership (Parcel 49C) on Aug. 12, 1994. I would point out that at the time this lease agreement was entered into, Mr. Haney was not a participant in Parcel 49C. Therefore, GSA's agreement to include language in the lease about FCC tenancy was completely unrelated to Mr. Haney.
The General Services Administration negotiated a supplemental lease agreement with Parcel 49C on Jan. 3, 1996. The supplemental agreement stated, among other things, that "it is the intent of the Government that the Federal Communications Commission shall be the initial occupant of the leased space," while retaining the right of the Government to substitute tenants for the tenant named in the solicitations and to sublet any part of the premises.
Contrary to the suggestion in the article, the "intent of the Government" language in the Jan. 3, 1996, supplemental lease was not an accommodation to Parcel 49C or Mr. Haney. The language was a carryover from the original lease, but we believe it was weaker than the "vigorous efforts" language contained in the original lease.
With respect to the FCC's occupancy of the Portals and the FCC's position on relocating to the Portals, during much of the time frame at issue I was the deputy director of the FCC's Office of Legislative & Intergovernmental Affairs. I can assure you that by the fall of 1994, the FCC chairman was prepared to have the agency relocate to the Portals--provided that sufficient space and sufficient monies to finance the move were available.
The Oct. 13 article is also inaccurate in reporting that GSA "dropped a standard clause" allowing it to terminate the lease in the case of partial destruction from fire or flood. This "standard" clause can affect a lessor's ability to obtain financing, and prospective lessors frequently seek to modify it. That Parcel 49C did so is not unusual.
In summary, the three basic "facts" that your reporter relied on to support her own conclusion that the FCC is moving to the Portals because of "powerful connections and big-bucks campaign contributions" were reported inaccurately.
Robert A. Peck
General Services Administration
Public Buildings Service
I am the spokeswoman for the Vice-President referred to in "Did Gore open a door?" I want to reiterate--and for the record--that the Vice-President had no involvement with the FCC's relocation to the Portals building or with the selection of the Portals building's developers. During an on-the-record conversation that I had with BUSINESS WEEK's reporter, I made this 100% clear. Indeed, neither the Vice-President nor anyone from his staff ever spoke to FCC Commissioner Reed Hundt about the issue of the Portals building or its developers.
Your article presents not one bit of real evidence connecting the Vice-President to any nefarious scheme regarding the Portals building because, quite simply, there is none.
Deputy Press Secretary
to Vice-President Al Gore
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