Government & Constitution

LightSquared: The Next Big Obama Scandal

The new Obama scandal is huge, but it’s also nice and simple.

LightSquared is a satellite broadband company, based out of Virginia.  It received heavy investments from a fund run by a big-money Democrat donor named Phillip Falcone, a billionaire who “became wealthy shorting subprime debt,” according to The Daily Beast. 

The company’s biggest investors, according to the Huffington Post, include Obama donor and current U.S. ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips, Obama friend and investment manager George Haywood… and Barack Obama himself, who was “an early investor and came to the presidency a firm believer in expanding broadband.”

LightSquared has been trying to get a big 4G network going, but there’s a problem: its technology appears to interfere with military, aviation, and weather tracking satellite systems.  The company’s technicians have been working on the problem, and in fact on Thursday they announced that they’ve got a solution, although rigorous testing will still have to be performed.

The Pentagon has some serious concerns about LightSquared.  Four-star General William Shelton of the U.S. Space Command was set to testify before a House committee on August 3rd, but he told investigators last week that the White House pressured him to change his testimony to favor that big Democrat donor.  From the Daily Beast report:

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.

“There was an attempt to influence the text of the testimony and to engage LightSquared in the process in order to bias his testimony,” Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) said in an interview. “The only people who were involved in the process in preparation for the hearing included the Department of Defense, the White House, and the Office Management and Budget.”

The Federal Communications Commission also has a hand in the LightSquared scandal.  They’ve been fast-tracking approval for the company’s wireless application, even as those pesky GPS issues became such a bone of contention between the White House and certain four-star generals.  FCC chairman Julius Genachowski mysteriously decided not to show up at the House Armed Services subcommittee hearing on the LightSquared issue Thursday, even though he had been listed as a witness at the hearing for several days. 

Subcommittee chairman Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) had clearly informed Genachowski he was expected at the hearing, according to the Washington Post.  Maybe the FCC chairman had more important things to take care of… like some leftover business from back when he was one of Barack Obama’s top fundraisers.

Hey, look on the bright side, America: at least the Obama team didn’t rip you off for another half-billion dollars here, like they did with Solyndra.  They’re just playing games with weather warnings and the air-traffic control system on behalf of their loyal contributors.  If you don’t fly on airplanes or live in a place that has weather, you have nothing to worry about.

 

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