Did Obama’s former investment play role in pressuring 4-star general to change testimony?

posted at 10:00 am on September 17, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier this week, Eli Lake reported that the four-star Air Force general in charge of US Space Command told a Congressional panel that the White House pressured him to change his testimony to favor a company that shelled out donations for Democrats.  LightSquared wants to press forward on a project that the military fears will create serious interference with GPS systems, and General William Shelton was going to address those concerns with Congress before the White House tried to push him into saying a few nice words on behalf of their sponsor.  A reminder:

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. …

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.

As it turns out, LightSquared is more than just a Democratic donor.  The Lonely Conservative points us to a July 2011 article at The Huffington Post, in which it seems that Barack Obama himself has a personal interest in LightSquared:

When the Federal Communications Commission granted LightSquared Inc. expedited approval to launch a new wireless Internet service, some powerful voices in Washington expressed alarm, including the Pentagon and one-third of the U.S. Senate.

LightSquared’s bold $14 billion plan, its detractors said, could cripple GPS systems and threaten aviation safety, disrupt military and rescue operations and interfere with high-tech farming equipment and the everyday navigation devices used by millions. …

  • Several major Democratic campaign contributors and longtime Obama supporters have held investments in the company and its affiliates during its tangled decade of existence. They include Obama’s good friend and political donor Donald Gips, his former White House personnel chief, who now serves as U.S. ambassador to South Africa. Records show that Gips maintained an interest, worth as much as $500,000, as the FCC was weighing LightSquared’s request.
  • Obama himself was an early investor and came to the presidency a firm believer in expanding broadband. He remains close to other early investors, like Gips and investment manager George W. Haywood, inviting some to luxe social events at the White House and more intimate gatherings like a night of poker and beer.

Presidents put their investments into blind trusts when they take office in order to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest.  Well, most modern Presidents do, anyway.  It seems that Obama considers himself an exception to this rule, or at the very least he did until April 2010.  The Washington Post’s Michael Shear reported at that time that Obama had refused to establish a blind trust:

In fact, President Obama has rejected the approach taken by most of his predecessors in the modern era.

His personal wealth — which is rapidly growing — is not shielded from his view.

Why not?

Officially, the answer is that the president wanted more transparency in his personal finances — fitting in with his pledges to be the most open White House in history.

“The choice not to have a blind trust is an effort to be transparent about where his money is kept, and the public can see his latest financial disclosure documents, which we have made public and accessible on the Web site,” a senior White House official said.

Well, sort of.  The records are not on line, but the White House website does have a request page, which promises to send a PDF of the financial disclosure forms quickly.  I’ve requested a copy and will check to see whether Obama still holds any position with LightSquared.  I’m going to guess no, only because it appears from Shear’s article that Obama converted most of his holdings into bonds in order to avoid the blind trust.

However, as the HuffPo report notes, that’s not the only problem in this scenario.  It’s clear that even if Obama divested himself of LightSquared at some point, he has remained close to the other investors.  If the White House pressured Shelton in order to benefit these investors, then we need to find out whether Obama gave that order himself on behalf of his cronies.

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Just the tip of the thuggery.

Media wake up, before you are completely dead.

Schadenfreude on September 17, 2011 at 3:56 PM

He’s sitting with his rear on the desk. He’s got zero respect for that office. Zero.

JellyToast on September 17, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Wow, some more of that chrome capitalism that Rick Skerry loves so much.
Looks like if he wins the nomination, Obama will have little room to argue on this issue.

carbon_footprint on September 17, 2011 at 5:24 PM

He’s sitting with his rear on the desk. He’s got zero respect for that office. Zero.

JellyToast on September 17, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Exactly. Sitting on the desk made of wood from the HMS Resolute as if it were the hood of a Chevy. No respect for anyone or any thing but his own rediculous place in history.

Tuning Spork on September 17, 2011 at 7:28 PM

Not quite as bad as Slick Willie, but quite cheeky planting his bony ass on the Resolute Desk.

flyoverland on September 17, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Sure. So?

America voted the man into the office for no other reason than 1) they wanted “change” and 2) he was black.

Short of him eating a live baby on live television, I doubt there’s anything the man could do to prevent him from being re-elected. Certainly not something as complicated as this.

spmat on September 17, 2011 at 10:07 PM

GET YOUR LAZY ASS OFF OUR DESK YOU STUPID PIG!!

greeneyedconservative on September 17, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Exactly. Sitting on the desk made of wood from the HMS Resolute as if it were the hood of a Chevy. No respect for anyone or any thing but his own rediculous place in history.
 
Tuning Spork on September 17, 2011 at 7:28 PM

 
It’s always neat how you can tell from peoples’ actions whether they’ve had to work for anything or not. He’s been given-to his entire life, so nothing is of any value.
 
I’m dead serious when I say his initials are somewhere on that desk.

rogerb on September 17, 2011 at 10:11 PM

He’s sitting with his rear on the desk. He’s got zero respect for that office. Zero.

JellyToast on September 17, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Exactly. Sitting on the desk made of wood from the HMS Resolute as if it were the hood of a Chevy. No respect for anyone or any thing but his own rediculous place in history.

Tuning Spork on September 17, 2011 at 7:28 PM

I agree. I saw a video of photos of him with his feet on the Resolute desk or sitting on it. In addition to doing this as a juvenile way of showing he’s the boss, I had to think it was also his way of showing disrespect to the Brits.

INC on September 17, 2011 at 10:26 PM

The lack of decorum shown in the photo is stomach-turning.

Paul-Cincy on September 17, 2011 at 10:30 PM

To heck with Shelton, I want to know if the White House pressured the FCC to fast-track LightSquared’s alteration of pre-established frequency utilization plans. The channels LightSquared wants to use were allocated for weak-signal satellite transmissions in order to avoid interfering with the adjacent GPS service. Putting high-powered terrestrial transmitters in that band was obviously going to cause problems, yet the FCC made the change anyway after a highly abbreviated comment period and field tests that were incomplete.

LightSquared says GPS receivers can be redesigned with tighter filters to eliminate the interference. Aside from the obsoleting of billions of dollars worth of existing receivers, this really isn’t technologically practical. Tighter filters introduce distortions in the received signal that reduce the accuracy of the position fix, which is why aviation GPS receivers were more effected by the interference than consumer receivers. (They have wider filters to produce more accurate navigation readings.) Loss of GPS fix in aviation receivers happened at distances of up to 10 miles from LightSquared transmitters in some tests.

Imagine an airliner trying to land in poor visibility, flying over a city full of LightSquared wireless Internet transmitters while approaching the landing field, and loosing its GPS location at that critical point as a result. The FCC’s actions make it likely that such scenarios would be common place.

Socratease on September 17, 2011 at 10:40 PM

This creature’s singular achievement would be that he has created a border between corruption and incompetence where there was none before, and then blurred it. If he’s doing it by design he’s a genius. If not he’s a blithering idiot. In either case something like an Obama wouldn’t be possible without the willing collaboration of hundreds, maybe thousands, of nihilistic media gatekeepers.

curved space on September 17, 2011 at 10:53 PM

What jackass wears blue jeans to the oval office?

TexasDan on September 17, 2011 at 10:56 PM

Barry,

Either you do not know that sitting on that desk displays utter disrespect to our nation, it’s people and our values or you do know. Either answer earns you a one-way ticket out of our highest office.

-United States citizen

Claypigeon on September 17, 2011 at 11:22 PM

Geez people, a quick google search comes up with a picture of George W with his feet up on the desk as well.
Let’s watch out for glass houses.

redshirt on September 18, 2011 at 1:07 AM

Man this guy is such a poser and fraud. Notice how he makes sure that he sits on the Oval Office desk. See everybody, I’m just a regular guy. Falso.

Hummer53 on September 18, 2011 at 1:14 AM

redshirt on September 18, 2011 at 1:07 AM

Pointing to bad behavior… I shan’t finish. This, although seemingly irrelevant, is the staple slippy slope argument. Point: both are wrong and both should/should’ve exercised more reasoned judgement. Caveman Ack just saying.

Claypigeon on September 18, 2011 at 1:28 AM

He’s sitting with his rear on the desk. He’s got zero respect for that office. Zero.

JellyToast on September 17, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Thats the first thing that caught my eye too.
We are told we should respect him when he has no respect for the US or the office! DAMN what a tool he is.

ColdWarrior57 on September 18, 2011 at 2:11 AM

ET YOUR LAZY ASS OFF OUR DESK YOU STUPID PIG!!

greeneyedconservative on September 17, 2011 at 10:08 PM

My thoughts exactly, no respect for the office he holds. What idiots that put him there.

wi farmgirl on September 18, 2011 at 5:09 AM

I’m dead serious when I say his initials are somewhere on that desk.

rogerb on September 17, 2011 at 10:11 PM

Probably not. He is too narcissistic for anything but a full signature with flourishes.

Slowburn on September 18, 2011 at 5:43 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYJ3SKwaKg8&feature=player_profilepage

INC on September 17, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Disgusting. First, that he’d do it, and second that he’d have it photographed. It’s the behavior of an inconsiderate child trying to assert his dominance.

petefrt on September 18, 2011 at 8:04 AM

Congress needs to investigate this. If it’s as bad as it looks, they need to institute impeachment proceedings.

morganfrost on September 18, 2011 at 8:41 AM

LightSquared raises another issue: Why this big interest in bringing broadband to rural America? Since when has Øbama prioritized anything for the benefit of gun-toting, Bible-hugging rural Americans? My gut says there’s a strategic political motive somewhere in here, that it’s part of a plan to ensure perpetual leftist control, but I can’t put my finger on what it might be.

petefrt on September 18, 2011 at 8:50 AM

http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2779275/posts

For years within the telecom industry there have been persistent complaints that LightSquared majority owner Philip Falcone’s political connections with the White House and the Federal Communications Commission have led to political and regulatory favoritism for his company. Falcone is a hedge fund investor who made a fortune shorting subprime debt. He is worth $2.2 billion and has been close to the administration and to Democratic Party officials.

On Thursday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski was slated to testify before the House Armed Services Committee about the political patronage in the granting of fast-track waivers for the company. But Genachowski stood up the committee — he refused to appear. Said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH):

I consider the chairman’s failure to show up today to be an affront to the House Armed Services Committee.

ted c on September 18, 2011 at 8:58 AM

iWatch, a project of the Center for Public Integrity, has conducted an exhaustive investigation of LightSquared and its high-level Obama connections. They found that in addition to the president, Donald Gips — Obama’s former personnel chief — had $500,000 invested in LightSquared. Gips raised half a million dollars as a “bundler” for the president’s 2008 campaign, and now has the politically coveted position of U.S. ambassador to South Africa.

ted c on September 18, 2011 at 8:59 AM

LightSquared is owned by the Harbinger Capital hedge fund, headed by billionaire investor Phil Falcone. He visited the White House and made large donations to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Soon after, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted LightSquared a highly unusual waiver that allows the company to build out a national 4G wireless network on the cheap.

http://nlpc.org/stories/2011/09/16/lightsquared-scandal-explodes

ted c on September 18, 2011 at 9:02 AM

… In either case something like an Obama wouldn’t be possible without the willing collaboration of hundreds, maybe thousands, of nihilistic media gatekeepers.

curved space on September 17, 2011 at 10:53 PM

My thoughts precisely. When historians write about the corruption of zero’s presidency, the media will be indicted along with him.

SoldiersMom on September 18, 2011 at 10:08 AM

It’s worth noting that impeaching a black president would prove equality of the races more than inaugurating one did.

Yes, however, the blacks would riot and the country would be
burning.

Wasn’t Bill Clinton impeached? It meant nothing. He stayed
in office and everything was the same as I recall it.

Amjean on September 18, 2011 at 10:57 AM

Wow, that post photo is something. Looks like a tour group got a little alot too casual in the White House.

forest on September 18, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Was Sarah Palin right about crony capitalism being the root of
our problems in this country? You betcha.

NOW, vet all the candidates and Palin herself equally on this
topic.

Amjean on September 18, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Ok, so far we’ve got FRAUD, suborning perjury, insider trading…

and a year to go…

I’d love to see the REAL numbers of how much money he makes in this act of being president of the United States.

SO we can take it back for offsetting fraud losses :)

golfmann on September 18, 2011 at 11:17 AM

I wonder why more people aren’t questioning this Company, first I am pretty sure it is an overseas co. it is run by a Indian/Pakistani
and one of his goals is that all citizens have an electronic ID, I don’t know if that means all US citizens or we all become citizens of THE NEW WORLD ORDER.
I question anything this pretender to the throne has been pushing to extremes.
If this interferes with GPS that would mean our drones, spy satalittes, defense systems,etc.
Wake up people this admin. is out to destroy America and our way of life.
Watch the other hand.

God please Bless America.

concernedsenior on September 18, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Two words:

(yes, we hillbillies can count to twenty with our socks off)

NATIONAL SECURITY.

That should be enough.

hillbillyjim on September 18, 2011 at 1:03 PM

We all knew that he was corrupt long before he took office. It’s the scope of it that just staggers me.

Eren on September 18, 2011 at 1:35 PM

JEMiller : 09/15/11 12:25
If there weren’t government (read tax/ratepayer) installation subsidies, there wouldn’t be a market – or at least it would be much smaller.
If the market were much smaller, the Chinese wouldn’t consider the industry worth manufacturing subsidies.
If the Chinese weren’t subsidizing the manufacture, the price would make the product even less viable economically, whether or not there were installation subsidies.
So the reality is that what we have is yet another government policy that – inefficiently, to be sure – shovels our tax dollars into Chinese pockets.
Free trade may be a framework around which one can build a trade policy, but it is not in itself a trade policy.
As for the reasons why ‘alternative energy’ programs are propped up – well, one might argue that ignorant bottom-feeders like Nostrils Waxman have to have a church to worship at.

preallocated on September 18, 2011 at 2:19 PM

People have remarked about the Obamination’s disrespectful postures and gestures. IMO it’s beyond disrespect, he’s a liberal globalist who thoroughly dislikes this country. See his body language in this video

http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/anthem.asp

Chessplayer on September 18, 2011 at 2:39 PM

Holy string of conflicts of interest Batman

katablog.com on September 18, 2011 at 2:51 PM

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