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LightSquared: The next Obama pay-for-play morass?
Michelle Malkin ^ | 09-15-2011 | Michelle Balkin

Posted on 09/15/2011 10:36:31 AM PDT by bronxville

When it rains, it pours. And there ain’t a big enough umbrella for all President Obama’s cronies and fixers to crowd under these days.

While the Solyndra BGB (big green boondoggle) continues to blow up on Capitol Hill, the White House faces another pay-for-play backlash — this time from his own left flank.

The liberal Daily Beast reports on a broadband project backed by a frequent Obama White House visitor and donor that has Pentagon officials concerned over potential military GPS interference. The Obama FCC took the lead in intervening on the donor, billionaire hedge fund manster Philip Falcone’s, behalf and granting his company called “LightSquared” one of those coveted Obama waivers from existing law. Then Obama officials reportedly pressured a general to alter his testimony about the company’s impact on military satellite transmissions.

In a nutshell:

The four-star Air Force general who oversees U.S. Space Command walked into a highly secured room on Capitol Hill a week ago to give a classified briefing to lawmakers and staff, and dropped a surprise. Pressed by members, Gen. William Shelton said the White House tried to pressure him to change his testimony to make it more favorable to a company tied to a large Democratic donor.

The episode—confirmed by The Daily Beast in interviews with administration officials and the chairman of a congressional oversight committee—is the latest in a string of incidents that have given Republicans sudden fodder for questions about whether the Obama administration is politically interfering in routine government matters that affect donors or fundraisers. Already, the FBI and a House committee are investigating a federal loan guarantee to a now failed solar firm called Solyndra that is tied to a large Obama fundraiser.

Now the Pentagon has been raising concerns about a new wireless project by a satellite broadband company in Virginia called LightSquared, whose majority owner is an investment fund run by Democratic donor Philip Falcone. Gen. Shelton was originally scheduled to testify Aug. 3 to a House committee that the project would interfere with the military’s sensitive Global Positioning Satellite capabilities, which control automated driving directions and missile targeting, among other things.

According to officials familiar with the situation, Shelton’s prepared testimony was leaked in advance to the company. And the White House asked the general to alter the testimony to add two points: that the general supported the White House policy to add more broadband for commercial use; and that the Pentagon would try to resolve the questions around LightSquared with testing in just 90 days. Shelton chafed at the intervention, which seemed to soften the Pentagon’s position and might be viewed as helping the company as it tries to get the project launched, the officials said.

Via Dan Isett, here’s a press release highlighting how Obama FCC chairman Julius Genachowski went to bat for LightSquared.

Genachowski is refusing to attend a House hearing today on how and why the FCC fast-tracked the matter. Most transparent administration ever:

Lawmakers such as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have questioned the process that led to what is seen as a fast-tracking of the FCC’s initial approval of LightSquared to operate as a commercial wireless venture, even amid complaints of dangerous GPS interference.

FCC spokeswoman Tammy Sun said on Thursday that the agency intends to send its head of engineering and technology, Julie Knapp, to testify. She said it was a technical hearing, and Knapp was the appropriate agency representative.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has been listed as a witness on the subcommittee’s Web site for days.

Sun said it was a mistake.

“We received an invitation from the subcommittee for the chairman or his designee to testify,” she said.

But subcommittee chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) had met with Genachowski and had made it clear that he wanted the agency head to attend the hearing, according to spokesman Thomas Crosson.

“The FCC told us late yesterday that he would not be attending” Crosson said in an e-mail. “We had expected him to attend, and it was made clear as such.”

Genachowski’s appearance has been anticipated as fresh questions emerge about the agency’s role in LightSquared’s waiver approval last January to use non-satellite phones on their proposed network. The power of those phones would crowd out GPS signals, according to defense, aviation and oceanic federal officials.

A few more tidbits about Falcone:

Last year, a popular financial blog named him one of the worst hedge-fund managers of 2010. And to many of his remaining investors’ great ire, roughly half of the money he has left is invested in a highly controversial, extremely risky private company—meaning he can’t easily sell, and investors can’t get their money back for the time being. The company, which Falcone has named LightSquared, is attempting to build a multi-billion-dollar satellite-based network to supply nationwide 4G wireless broadband service, in competition with AT&T and Verizon Wireless. “It is literally pie-in-the-sky stuff,” a former Harbinger investor says. “Cue the ‘Mission Impossible’ theme,” wrote a trade publication. Others have called it Falcone’s “riskiest trade ever” or “the bet of his life.”

Add in very public defections by employees, a lawsuit from a former partner, Howard Kagan, at Harbinger, and another bitter lawsuit, brought by Nacco, a small-appliance and industrial firm, which lost a takeover battle to Harbinger, and you can see why Falcone is losing his faith in Ganesh.

And that was all before federal authorities—the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department—started looking into a $113 million loan that Falcone took from his funds in the fall of 2009 to pay his taxes. His investors didn’t find out about it until the spring of 2010, and at that point they couldn’t get their money out of his funds.

According to Reuters, there are also ongoing investigations by the S.E.C. into possible short selling and market manipulation abuses by Harbinger. “He [Falcone] has a reputation for being stubborn, volatile, and aggressive, and now the word on the Street is that, well, maybe you can’t trust him, either,” says one hedge-fund investor. “He lives by his own set of rules,” says another. “Dangerous, hockey player, high-life guy.” A fund manager sums him up this way: “A roll-the-dice, put-everything-on-red kind of guy.”

Falcone may be caught in what an observer says is a “death spiral” for a hedge-fund manager, because as soon as investors can get their money, they will take it and run. Goldman Sachs reportedly plans to pull its $120 million from Falcone’s fund. “These businesses, all they are is client trust. The money can vanish overnight,” says a former Falcone investor. “Once you ding a guy’s reputation, and there’s the perception that he broke that trust, it is virtually impossible to get it back.”


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bhofascism; chicagoway; corruption; cultureofcorruption; democrats; fcc; genachowski; grassley; juliusgenachowski; lightsquared; miketurner; obama; obamacorruption; pay2play; paytoplay; philipfalcone; shelton; williamshelton

The Obama pay-for-play word of the day: LightSquared.

Pass it on.

1 posted on 09/15/2011 10:36:38 AM PDT by bronxville
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To: bronxville

“Via Dan Isett, here’s a press release highlighting how Obama FCC chairman Julius Genachowski went to bat for LightSquared.

Genachowski is refusing to attend a House hearing today on how and why the FCC fast-tracked the matter. Most transparent administration ever:

Lawmakers such as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have questioned the process that led to what is seen as a fast-tracking of the FCC’s initial approval of LightSquared to operate as a commercial wireless venture, even amid complaints of dangerous GPS interference.”

Julius Genachowski. Yes! Hopefully they’ll also get his ex-boss Diller.


2 posted on 09/15/2011 10:39:49 AM PDT by bronxville (Sarah will be the first American female president.)
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To: bronxville

And as a special no-extra-charge benefit - their transmissions mess up aviation GPS receivers. Not to worry. I’m sure those nasty old corporate jets won’t REALLY crash into each other or the ground when their GPS sets randomly blank out. /s/

AOPA is trying to educate Congress on the matter. I’m not sure where the commercial air carriers are on the subject.


3 posted on 09/15/2011 10:42:16 AM PDT by Pecos (Constitutionalist. Liberty and Honor will not die on my watch.)
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To: bronxville
Why am I not surprised to learn that this company is in bed with this administration.
Lightsquared has to go down as hard as Barry. And as soon as possible.
4 posted on 09/15/2011 10:43:07 AM PDT by grobdriver (Proud Member, Party Of No! No Socialism - No Fascism - Nobama - No Way!)
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To: bronxville

A Chicago politician corrupt? Next thing you know they’ll be demonizing Satan.


5 posted on 09/15/2011 10:44:13 AM PDT by omega4412
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To: bronxville

I sense that there are about to be a lot of “-gates”.... I think we just need to call them all - “Obama-gate”


6 posted on 09/15/2011 10:48:32 AM PDT by Newton (If Obama is the answer it's probably a stupid question.)
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To: Pride in the USA

Holy cow. Solyndra > LightSquared > who’s next?

These are most likely just the tip of the iceberg. Still, leaning on a General to lie in order to facilitate interfering with military GPS on behalf of a donor is insane.


7 posted on 09/15/2011 10:49:13 AM PDT by lonevoice (The Fresh Prince of Bill Ayers, impeach we much)
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To: Pecos
their transmissions mess up aviation GPS receivers

Not just aviation - EVERY GPS receiver.

Farmers reap their crops using GPS.
Engineers map our building projects using GPS.
Cropdusters spray fields using GPS (OK - aviation).
Auto navigation use GPS.
Ocean-going shipping navigate using GPS.

The point is, every precision GPS receiver will likely be affected.

8 posted on 09/15/2011 10:49:48 AM PDT by grobdriver (Proud Member, Party Of No! No Socialism - No Fascism - Nobama - No Way!)
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To: bronxville
Genachowski is refusing to attend a House hearing today on how and why the FCC fast-tracked the matter.

Well that's simple. His FY12 budget loses $115M for every day he fails to appear. That gives him 3 days to show up before the FCC ceases to exist.

9 posted on 09/15/2011 10:50:29 AM PDT by pepsi_junkie (Who is John Galt?)
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To: lonevoice
Holy cow. Solyndra > LightSquared > who’s next?

(in best Jeopardy answer voice) Who is Tesla?

10 posted on 09/15/2011 10:51:56 AM PDT by BookmanTheJanitor
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To: bronxville
When are we going to start hearing the phrase "quid pro quo" being used?

When are we going to start hearing the word "bribary" being used?

When are we going to start hearing that the Obama administration was seeking fundraising cash in exchange for government contracts, with clear evidence of quid pro quo?

These stories are starting to show a pattern of behavior from the Obama White House that's making me rethink Obama's involvement in the Blago Senate seat scandal.

-PJ

11 posted on 09/15/2011 10:53:18 AM PDT by Political Junkie Too (Everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day, Mexican on Cinco de Mayo, and American on Election Day.)
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To: grobdriver

Loral Corp. redux. Trading national security for profits.

And kickbacks, of course. How else can barry and the queen of bitches retire as billionaires?


12 posted on 09/15/2011 10:54:38 AM PDT by DPMD (~)
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To: bronxville

Gangster government in operation, as it has been since Obama was sworn in. It’s very disturbing that a general would cave in to the pressure.


13 posted on 09/15/2011 10:58:46 AM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: Pecos

UPDATE: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/09/15/lightsquared-did-white-house-pressure-general-shelton-to-help-donor.html

USAF General Shelton, U.S. Space Command, testified that (a) LightSquared broadcasts will affect US aircraft, and (b) he has been pressured by the White House to change his testimony.


14 posted on 09/15/2011 11:01:16 AM PDT by Pecos (Constitutionalist. Liberty and Honor will not die on my watch.)
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To: lonevoice

” Holy cow. Solyndra > LightSquared > who’s next? “

Ethanol > Curly Tail Lightbulbs > Wind Turbines > etc;..


15 posted on 09/15/2011 11:28:33 AM PDT by SF_Redux (Sarah stands for accountablility and personal responsiblity, democrats can't live with that)
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To: Verginius Rufus
Gangster government in operation, as it has been since Obama was sworn in. It’s very disturbing that a general would cave in to the pressure.


It's not clear from the article that the general did cave in.

16 posted on 09/15/2011 11:42:56 AM PDT by az_gila
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To: bronxville

How about a National “Right to Work” Law.. (Act)..?.
About ANY federal project.. or federally funded project?..

The stink of the Unions is everywhere.. the Unions are rotting.. decomposing..
They are toxic... the corruption is politically disease ridden..
The Unions have become criminal.. and seditious.. maybe traitorous..


17 posted on 09/15/2011 11:47:09 AM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole...)
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To: lonevoice
Still, leaning on a General to lie in order to facilitate interfering with military GPS on behalf of a donor is insane.

...great point - if an administration is willing to do something this corrupt, reckless, treacherous and stupid, I think the sky's the limit as to what other crimes they have committed.

18 posted on 09/15/2011 11:54:17 AM PDT by ghost of nixon
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To: lonevoice

Not only insane, but an impeachable offense, IMO.


19 posted on 09/15/2011 12:12:06 PM PDT by Rider on the Rain
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To: az_gila
It's not clear from the article that the general did cave in.

If he did, he didn't stay 'caved' very long.

My memory of my Air Force days is that the officer corps was pretty much of a 'go along to get ahead' outfit, so it wouldn't surprise me too much if he did cave, or even volunteered to change his testimony to please the White House.

My inner cynic inclines me to believe that if he's speaking out now, it's because he can see the handwriting on the wall for the Obama administration and doesn't want to be caught in the crash.

20 posted on 09/15/2011 12:27:05 PM PDT by Grut
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To: Rider on the Rain

-——an impeachable offense——

The article attributed the pressure to the white house, not the Messiah. Valarie can’t be impeached


21 posted on 09/15/2011 12:38:11 PM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 ....Rats carry plague)
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To: bert

Yeah,I’m sure you’re right about it being Ms. Jarrett, and how much she tells sub zero is anybody’s guess. Congress ought to haul her before that committee and see if she perjures herself.


22 posted on 09/15/2011 1:44:49 PM PDT by Rider on the Rain
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To: Grut

Nahh... I would like to think that the general has been told by his technical staff how many weapon systems could be affected by loss of GPS.


23 posted on 09/15/2011 3:22:00 PM PDT by az_gila
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To: bronxville
From the Daily Beast report: "Sloan recalled similar instances during the Bush administration, when officials were accused of trying to meddle with climate scientists’ testimony.
24 posted on 09/15/2011 4:53:03 PM PDT by Excellence ( CTRL-GALT-DELETE)
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To: az_gila
I'm glad to see that my supposition (2 posts up) seems to be correct.

From another report today -

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2779469/posts

In Gen Shelton’s presentation to Congress, he went prepared to warn of the dangers the LightSqaured project would pose to our GPS integrity. He said the White House attempted to pressure him into altering the substance of his testimony to indicate:

1. That the military would continue to test the proposed bandwidth for ways LightSquared could still use the spectrum space without interfering with GPS.
2. That he hoped the necessary testing for LightSquared would be completed within 90 days.

The general refused to make these changes.

25 posted on 09/16/2011 1:27:05 PM PDT by az_gila
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