Under extremely unusual circumstances, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently granted a company called LightSquared the right to use wireless spectrum to build out a national 4G wireless network. LightSquared will get the spectrum for a song, while its competitors have to spend billions.
Although the technical implications of the FCC action are complicated, how it came about is not. LightSquared is owned by the Harbinger Capital hedge fund, headed by billionaire investor Phil Falcone, in photo. Falcone visited the White House and made large donations to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
When established regulations and procedures are circumvented for political reasons, the result is often unintended consequences. When the Obama FCC appointees did the favor for Falcone, they probably had no idea that they might be creating severe technical problems for other users of wireless spectrum.
Now the Global Positioning System (GPS) industry is up in arms. According to …
Today we asked the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to investigate actions by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that benefitted Harbinger Capital Partners after its founder Phil Falcone (at right) made large contributions to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
As we describe in the letter to the Committee’s ranking members, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NJ):
The plan centered around first securing FCC approval for Harbinger’s acquisition of SkyTerra, then getting the FCC to “fast-track” approval for Harbinger to take advantage of a little-known spectrum loophole for satellite licenses.
That loophole allowed Falcone’s new company, called LightSquared, to receive spectrum for free, while competitors have to pay billions of dollars. Our letter details this arrangement, and Falcone’s efforts to make it happen. The full text appears below. Click here to download a 7-page pdf.
FULL TEXT OF LETTER:
Dear Chairman Issa and Congressman Towns:
In the wake of reports that he recommended his girlfriend Melodee Hanes, who served on his Senate staff, to be a United States Attorney, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) issued this statement today:
Mel and I have a wonderful relationship. We are living together and enjoying spending time with each other and our families. I’m as happy as I’ve ever been.
Mel and I were both separated from our former spouses when we got together. It wasn’t an “affair.” As we grew closer and things progressed, we knew it was time to begin the process of Mel transitioning out of my Senate office.
Baucus is absolutely right. Whenever an elected official has a personal relationship with a staff member, it is important to begin the process of finding them something else. After all, they might get caught. Or it might get into the press. Or they might even be accused of …