Senator questions ethics of alleged LightSquared lobbying
LightSquared owner Falcone and another man appeared to offer improper deals to help allow FCC approval, Senator Grassley said
IDG News Service - U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said Monday that the owner of LightSquared and a possible representative of the company may have broken ethics rules when they contacted his office about winning approval for LightSquared's planned mobile broadband network.
Grassley, a leading opponent of LightSquared's bid to operate a cellular network in frequencies next to GPS spectrum, said that LightSquared founder Philip Falcone wrote to him saying that a LightSquared approval could be a "win" for Grassley. In addition, he said, Fine Point Technologies Chairman and CEO Todd Ruelle suggested a call center might be built in Iowa if Grassley helped to make approval possible.
Harbinger Capital Partners, the Falcone-led hedge fund that owns LightSquared, denied any relationship with Ruelle.
"No one at Harbinger or LightSquared has had any discussions or negotiations with Mr. Ruelle with respect to approaching or contacting Senator Grassley's office regarding an alleged quid pro quo, or a call center in Iowa, which in any event would be inconsistent with the LightSquared wholesale business model," Harbinger said in a statement on Monday. "If such conversations occurred, Mr. Ruelle was acting entirely on his own and without the knowledge, authority, or endorsement of Mr. Falcone, Harbinger or LightSquared."
LightSquared faces stiff opposition to its plan for an LTE (Long Term Evolution) network because tests have shown likely interference between that network and many GPS receivers. The ultimate decision whether the company can launch the network resides with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which has said it won't grant approval unless interference concerns are put to rest. A defense funding law passed in December also requires the interference issues be solved.
Grassley does not sit on any of the committees that deal directly with the FCC, but he has raised questions about LightSquared's contacts with the Obama administration and sought documents about those contacts. He believes Harbinger may have used improper influence on the administration to quickly gain an FCC waiver that brought LightSquared closer to approval.
In a letter to Falcone on Monday, Grassley questioned the way Falcone and Ruelle had approached his office. Their words "implied an invitation to pull punches in my investigation," Grassley, a Republican, wrote. "I won't be a part of that," he wrote.
Grassley said that on Oct. 5, 2011, Falcone wrote to him, "The last thing I want to do is make this any more political than it already is. It doesn't belong in that arena. However, since we are already there, I believe I can make this into a win for the Senator, Lightsquared and the consumer."
Later, on Jan. 6, Ruelle called a Grassley staff member who is investigating the FCC waiver and said in part, "There will be a call center in the Midwest, possibly in Iowa, if this deal goes through." Ruelle said he would only get paid if a deal for LightSquared approval went through, according to Grassley. Grassley said his staff had told Ruelle that his questions raised red flags and asked him to stop contacting them.
- Use the Mobile App Mix to Choose an Enterprise App Store Strategy In this research report Gartner outlines how organizations can optimally secure, distribute, and manage mobile applications for employees and contracted workers.
- The Case for Mobile Apps Today's mobile apps turn handheld devices into e-book readers, portable navigation systems, digital wallets and more. And for organizations with mobile workers, they...
- The 5 Big Lies About Going Mobile You've heard about the power of mobile to change your business. But have you realized your mobile potential? It's about much more than...
- Transforming enterprise applications for mobile environments This new white paper explains how Dell Application Modernization and Development Solution Set can help you understand when to develop new mobile apps,...
- NSS Labs & Cisco Present: Evaluating Leading Breach Detection Systems Today's constantly evolving advanced malware and APTs can evade point-in-time defenses to penetrate networks. Security professionals must evolve their strategy in lockstep to...
- Will the Real Endpoint Threat Detection and Response Please Stand Up? This webinar explores new technologies & process for protecting endpoints from advanced attackers as well as the innovations that are pushing the envelope... All Mobile Apps White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!