Grassley: FCC Stonewalling on LightSquared Scandal Documents

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Grassley photoHas Julius Genachowski, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), met his match in Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)? Genachowski, a buddy of President Obama from Harvard Law School, has brought a culture of wheeling and dealing to the FCC, on whose decisions billions of telecom dollars often ride.

Grassley says that he will hold up two nominations for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) until the Commission provides documents that he has requested relating to LightSquared, a broadband company owned by the Harbinger Capital hedge fund.

LightSquared is at the center of a scandal involving accusations made first by NLPC in February that political influence and campaign contributions played a role in the FCC granting LightSquared a waiver allowing it to deploy a national 4G wireless network.

LightSquared is headed by billionaire Phil Falcone. According to the Wall Street Journal, Soros Fund Management is a major investor in Harbinger.

From a Grassley statement released on November 3:

I will object to proceeding to the nomination because the FCC continues to stonewall a document request I submitted to the FCC over six months ago on April 27, 2011, regarding their actions related to LightSquared and Harbinger Capital.  Since then, I have repeated my request to the FCC through letters I sent on July 5th and September 8th and the FCC continues to deny my request for documents.

Grassley continued:

I strongly believe that it is critical for Congress to have access to documents in order to conduct vigorous and independent oversight.  It is unfortunate that this administration, which has pledged to be the most transparent in history, disagrees.  As long as they continue to do so, I will be forced to take steps like this in order to ensure that Congress receives a complete picture of this administration's actions.

The two nominees are Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, and Ajit Varadaraj, a Republican. Nominated by President Obama on November 1, their confirmations were not expected to generate controversy.

NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm "So far, Genakowski has thumbed his nose at Grassley. He may be underestimating Grassley's tenacity and stubbornness, especially when Grassley gets a whiff that something is amiss."

In the statement, Grassley himself addressed whether his tactic can succeed:

Several months ago, I had to take similar action when I supported Senator Chambliss' hold of James Cole's nomination to be Deputy Attorney General in order to get documents from the Department of Justice.  In the end, the documents we uncovered shed light on the Department's actions regarding Operation Fast and Furious and the murder of Agent Brian Terry.

Related:

LightSquared Scandal Explodes

Obama Invested in Company That Got Sweet Deal From FCC (Fox Business Network video)

Will FCC's Political Favor for LightSquared Result in GPS Interference?

Did Harbinger Hedge Fund Buy Influence With White House?; Probe Asked of FCC Spectrum Giveaway