Grassley: LightSquared offered me a political “win” in exchange for backing down on FCC probe

posted at 2:40 pm on January 23, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The push for LightSquared’s FCC exemption had already become embarrassing for the Obama administration, but it might be about to turn toxic.  Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), who has pursued a probe of the FCC over its curious actions towards the company owned by big Democratic Party donor Philip Falcone, now claims in a press release earlier today that Falcone and another person offered inducements to Grassley to get him to back off of his efforts:

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today asked the principal behind the LightSquared wireless project to explain a questionable contact to Grassley’s office that intimated benefits for Grassley if he softened his inquiry of government approval of the project.

Grassley wrote to Philip Falcone of Harbinger Capital Partners, expressing concern that two separate incidents implied a desire to have Grassley “pull punches” in his investigation.  Grassley said he “won’t be a part of that.”  One contact came in an email from Falcone to Grassley’s office, saying that since LightSquared is already in the political “arena,” it could be made a “win” for Grassley, LightSquared, and the consumer.

The second contact was from someone who intimated that he represented LightSquared in a call to Grassley’s staff.  The individual, Todd Ruelle, said he “only gets paid if this deal goes through” and hinted that if LightSquared were allowed to proceed, Grassley’s home state of Iowa could get a “call center.”   Grassley’s office advised Ruelle not to contact the office further and called the Senate ethics committee regarding the contact.

Ruelle also was named in emails made public through a separate inquiry.  In the emails, Ruelle corresponded with Fox News Channel bookers over making arrangements for a Falcone appearance.  After Ruelle forwarded these e-mails to a government official, the government official asked Ruelle to cease communicating with him.

Grassley wrote to Falcone, asking him to explain whether he and/or LightSquared have a relationship with Ruelle and if so, to provide details.

Since last April, Grassley has been reviewing why the Federal Communications Commission rushed approval of the LightSquared project without adequately exploring what turned out to be  widespread concerns of interference with the Global Positioning System devices widely used by the military, first responders, aviation, precision agriculture, and consumer navigation.

The text of Grassley’s letter to Falcone is available here.  The attachments are available here, here and here.

Grassley has already referred the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee, but also demanded a response from Falcone himself in the letter sent out today.  The letter from Grassley to Falcone sounds … bad:

On January 6, 2012, at approximately 12:45 p.m., a member of my staff who is investigating the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) decision to grant a waiver to LightSquared, a company owned by your hedge fund, Harbinger Capital Partners, received a phone call from Mr. Todd Ruelle of Fine Point Technologies.  Mr. Ruelle indicated that he “only gets paid if this deal goes through” and that “there will be a call center in the Midwest, possibly in Iowa, if this deal goes through.”  This statement is of particular concern in light of your e-mail to my staff on October 5, 2011, which read in part, “The last thing I want to do is to make this 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.”  Taken together, these two statements implied an invitation to pull punches in my investigation. I won’t be a part of that. …

In the course of his phone call to my staff, Mr. Ruelle indicated that while he had not yet been paid by you or Harbinger Capital Partners, he had been offering you advice regarding LightSquared’s negotiations with me and the FCC.  Mr. Ruelle stated that he did not appreciate the involvement of lawyers and suggested that you directly ask to meet with me, which you then did.

In addition to this comment, he also told my staff that he had booked you for an appearance on Fox News.  A recent FOIA request made public by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) yielded an e-mail from Mr. Ruelle to a federal employee forwarding his e-mails to Fox News bookers where he arranged for you to appear on the Fox News Channel.  In this e-mail chain, Mr. Ruelle writes to the federal employee, in reference to your appearance in which you rebutted charges of political influence with the Obama administration and the FCC.  Mr. Ruelle wrote: “I have arranged to hit back HARD!”  After that email, the government employee asked Mr. Reuelle not to contact him in the future.

That January 6th contact prompted the report to the ethics committee, as well as a demand from Grassley’s office to LightSquared to clarify Ruelle’s relationship to the company.  Ruelle is CEO and chair of Fine Point Technologies, which does not appear to be a lobby shop but does do work in high-tech telecommunications.  According to his bio, Ruelle also worked at Sprint, which is one of LSQ’s partners in their broadband project, but which has threatened to pull out if the FCC doesn’t grant a permanent waiver soon.  However, unlike Falcone, it does not appear that Ruelle donates to any political parties or candidates, at least not in the last three cycles, according to Open Secrets.  After two weeks, Grassley’s office has yet to get a response, and they have decided to make this public.

Be sure to read the letter and the attached e-mails.  If nothing else, the FCC will be even more reluctant to give LSQ a green light while the Senate Ethics Committee chews on these developments.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

All of Zero’s scandals will bubble up and out of the mud.

dogsoldier on January 23, 2012 at 2:44 PM

WOW, just WOW! Hang in like a pit bull Grassley.
L

letget on January 23, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Obama looks out for the little guy.

-libfreeordie

Good Lt on January 23, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Should have gotten Project Veritas to tape those goons offering bribes.

Steven McGregor on January 23, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Solyndra destroying materials by the ton. Why?

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Obama looks out for the little guy.

-libfreeordie

Good Lt on January 23, 2012 at 2:45 PM

And liberal4life

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Someone connected to Dear Liar may be corrupt?! That’s the biggest shock since the Colts bad season after Peyton went down.

rbj on January 23, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Grassley better start checking his car before he starts it.

He might also need a food taster.

portlandon on January 23, 2012 at 2:51 PM

That is the Chicago Way right there. This is how they do business. This is how they win.

bekarlss on January 23, 2012 at 2:51 PM

MSM will be all over this!
Trolls flocking to thread!
(They alone will post 2000 comments)
Over there! Over there!

KOOLAID2 on January 23, 2012 at 2:52 PM

I’m nostalgic for the good old days when Presidents actually tried to hide their corruption and cronyism. It was more charming then.
/sarc

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 2:52 PM

And liberal4life

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Same difference.

Good Lt on January 23, 2012 at 2:55 PM

I’m nostalgic for the good old days when Presidents actually tried to hide their corruption and cronyism. It was more charming then.
/sarc

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 2:52 PM

i remember the days when first ladies who had the attitude that they could tell americans what to eat would try to hide their own bad eating habits, but we gots michelle my bell eating burgers, fries, and shakes in broad daylight every chance she gets.

Newt/Callista/West 2012!

GhoulAid on January 23, 2012 at 2:56 PM

Falcone is a donor to John Sununu.

batterup on January 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM

One contact came in an email from Falcone to Grassley’s office, saying that since LightSquared is already in the political “arena,” it could be made a “win” for Grassley, LightSquared, and the consumer.

He put it in writing… so he’s not only corrupt, he’s an idiot.

mankai on January 23, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Remarkably free of scandal.

rogerb on January 23, 2012 at 3:01 PM

while the Senate Ethics Committee chews on these developments.

An oxymoron as long as Dems control the Senate. My guess is they’ll chew on them, swallow them, then expel the same chit we always get from Babs “call me ma’am” Boxer and Company.

Flora Duh on January 23, 2012 at 3:02 PM

This is the kind of garbage that has to be wiped out in Washington. This should be an exception to business as usual for which a politician gets smacked down, but instead this sort of crap has become business as usual and it is only the smack down that has become an exception. This happens day in and day out on Capitol Hill. I’m glad to see Grassley told these guys to stuff it.

And this is why I have no interest in the GOP candidates, especially Mitt. Where has Mitt made one proposal about changing the way Washington functions? Perry and Paul were/are the only ones talking about changing that crap, and I believe that’s the first thing that needs to be changed. Congress isn’t going to balance the budget until such time as it stops benefitting them t run the budget up and bloat the government… which is either a fundemental change in the rules or an all out economic collapse along the lines of Greece.

It’s a shame that Perry couldn’t articulate a sentence and Paul just doesn’t appear “presidential” to anyone. I’m beginning to think many GOP voters are afraid of our Constitution, in spite of their lip service to small government.

gravityman on January 23, 2012 at 3:03 PM

His record on ethics… unprecedented!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq3GGwgV7R0

/

mankai on January 23, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Are you sure being this is dear leaders FCC?

cmsinaz on January 23, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Doesn’t matter. MSM doesn’t care. only people at sites like Hot Air even hear about this stuff.

WitchDoctor on January 23, 2012 at 3:04 PM

WOW, just WOW! Hang in like a pit bull Grassley.
L

letget on January 23, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Grassley and Issa are about the only Rs who don’t give in to this kind of arm twisting.

We need more like them.

UltimateBob on January 23, 2012 at 3:06 PM

Falcone is a donor to John Sununu.

batterup on January 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Wait a minute! You mean the same John Sununu who endorsed Romney?

Hey, Buy Danish, where are youuuuuuu?

Flora Duh on January 23, 2012 at 3:07 PM

The plot thickens but nothing, absolutely nothing will change. No one will face prosection in any of the dozens of scandals currently out there. Not one single person. Truth.

dddave on January 23, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Doesn’t matter. MSM doesn’t care. only people at sites like Hot Air even hear about this stuff.

WitchDoctor on January 23, 2012 at 3:04 PM

there’s this old, fat, white haired dude running around causing chaos right now and he’s gonna bring all of this out into the open everytime they put a microphone in front of his face. his name is Newt. Newt Gingrich.

GhoulAid on January 23, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Look! Newt’s had 2 mitresses!
Look! Mitt Rommney is RICH!
Look! Santorum buried he and his wife’s dead baby!

SouthernGent on January 23, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Spot on southerngent

cmsinaz on January 23, 2012 at 3:16 PM

I suspect a trap. Maybe they’re trying to confuse us with all these scandals…?

Akzed on January 23, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Babs “call me ma’am” Boxer

Flora Duh on January 23, 2012 at 3:02 PM

s/b “don’t call me ma’am”

Flora Duh on January 23, 2012 at 3:17 PM

I fought the law and the law won…(1)

(1) With some exceptions

sdbatboy on January 23, 2012 at 3:24 PM

Clinton allowed Loral to sell top secret missile launch secrets to the Chinese and he is still a “Leader” among liberals. Obama and his cronies have completely ignored the Constitution and will get away with it because it doesn’t contain any sex scandals or anything that would make the average citizen take notice. WE cannot win this election by being the “Hall Monitor” who tells on the bad kids who are smoking in the men’s room. We have to put up a solution to everything Obama has done wrong and show them side by side. If we don’t most of the dim witted voters will not even know what is wrong or what we plan to do about it. Also term limits would be a great first step in eliminating corruption in DC. Time, in the case of elected officials, is the corrupting factor. Once they get comfortable they do not want to give up their privileged life and begin to compromise to keep it.

inspectorudy on January 23, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Surely the rug is full, and no more sweeping can occur.

Will this be the ‘first’ scandel, or is it the 13th nothing burger, with cheese, cooked with transfat.

John Kettlewell on January 23, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Mr. Ruelle wrote: “I have arranged to hit back HARD!”

LMAO. Ruelle sounds like a newbie to this political stuff.

Ruelle also reminds me of that story (I forget the details or I’d link it) about the marketing firm as agent of a gamer accessory company whose treatment of a customer went way overboard and, as it continued to escalate, he just wouldn’t stop digging his hole until he got sh$t-canned by gaming company.

Dusty on January 23, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Clinton allowed Loral to sell top secret missile launch secrets to the Chinese and he is still a “Leader” among liberals. Obama and his cronies have completely ignored the Constitution and will get away with it because it doesn’t contain any sex scandals or anything that would make the average citizen take notice. WE cannot win this election by being the “Hall Monitor” who tells on the bad kids who are smoking in the men’s room. We have to put up a solution to everything Obama has done wrong and show them side by side. If we don’t most of the dim witted voters will not even know what is wrong or what we plan to do about it. Also term limits would be a great first step in eliminating corruption in DC. Time, in the case of elected officials, is the corrupting factor. Once they get comfortable they do not want to give up their privileged life and begin to compromise to keep it.

inspectorudy on January 23, 2012 at 3:27 PM

All I can think of is the so called “conservatives” that the
Tea Party managed to get elected in 2008. Within months many
of them fell in line with the Repub Estab Rino party line.

We all know that power corrupts…..I think we were mostly
astonished that it happened so quickly.

Amjean on January 23, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Aaaaahhhh, too bad. I was looking forward to Zero introducing Philip Falcome as a stellar American at the upcoming State of the Union address. (Oh yeah, this is sarcasm!)

joecollins on January 23, 2012 at 4:07 PM

BS Green technology that doesn’t even work, bribery, corruption.

Just another day in the Obamanation.

CorporatePiggy on January 23, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Obama looks out for the little guy.

-libfreeordie

Good Lt on January 23, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Unless the little guy uses one of those new fangled GPS thing-a-majig devices. Then, not so much.

(But then again, little guys don’t need the latest technology… only the technology that we approve for them. And foodstamps. Don’t forget foodstamps.)

dominigan on January 23, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Grassley better start checking his car before he starts it.

He might also need a food taster.

portlandon on January 23, 2012 at 2:51 PM

oh, good grief…and what else, maybe look above his head and check for chemtrails…

jimver on January 23, 2012 at 4:28 PM

OT: O’bama hosted the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins at the White House today.

Stanley Cup MVP Tim Thomas, their main goalie, refuse to attend because he doesn’t like O’bama’s politics. he was the only Bruin not there. This has already been duly noted in his wiki entry.

Speaking of wiki, does anyone here know how to edit wiki entries? When I went to Tim’s page to see if this news had already been posted, this is what I saw at the bottom:

Thomas is a known fan of demented conservative commentator Glenn Beck.[15]

Yep, wiki is a reliable research tool, all right.

/

Del Dolemonte on January 23, 2012 at 4:28 PM

And this weeks episodes of “As Capitol Hill Turns” will be presented in 3D Kabukiscope. On Monday we begin with “Lightsquared, Solyndra and Gunrunner meet the Black Hole”. Later this week we will have updates on those Randy Republican Rascals, Obama bores the country on live TV and Harry celebrates 1000 days of something uninmportant and completely forgotten.

dddave on January 23, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Wait a minute! You mean the same John Sununu who endorsed Romney?

Flora Duh on January 23, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Some soft underbelly is exposed, Mitt.

a capella on January 23, 2012 at 4:35 PM

“Paging Jonathan Alter, pick up the white courtesy phone”…

hillsoftx on January 23, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today asked the principal behind the LightSquared wireless project to explain a questionable contact to Grassley’s office that intimated benefits for Grassley if he softened his inquiry of government approval of the project.

This is what bammie’s friends are up to.

Tim_CA on January 23, 2012 at 4:42 PM

I’m nostalgic for the good old days when Presidents actually tried to hide their corruption and cronyism. It was more charming then.
/sarc

SoRight on January 23, 2012 at 2:52 PM

those good old days will come back when the MSM’s boyfriend is no longer precedent (sic).

jukin3 on January 23, 2012 at 4:44 PM

if LightSquared were allowed to proceed, Grassley’s home state of Iowa could get a “call center.”

So it is wrong to follow what is common practice in getting defense contracts?

Apparently this all came about because Lightsquared decided to buy some cheapo spectrum that was set aside for satellite communications instead of paying for the more expensive spectrum that is intended for ground stations, which is what their technology is. They figured that the satellite bandwidth was billions of dollars cheaper and that buy greasing some palms they could bypass the regulations and come out ahead.

Problem is that the interference is a known problem because GPS like all satellite signal receivers has to be very sensitive. That is why those two kinds of signals are restricted to different parts of the spectrum. It would be like buying a residential property and bribing the zoning board to allowing a strip club.

pedestrian on January 23, 2012 at 4:53 PM

What’s all this talk of sandals? Are the Obama’s planning a Caribbean vacation? But I thought Boreracky’s beach shoes of choice were flip-flops. What’s that? Ohhh, scandals. Never mind.

stukinIL4now on January 23, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Grassley is just another corrupt pol. You don’t offer “bribes” to those you deem not bribeable. To the one’s who can’t be bribed, you make them offers they can’t refuse. Obviously, Grassley was offered a bribe because somewhere along his corruptable career, he has been successfully bribed. Question is, how often?

they lie on January 23, 2012 at 5:09 PM

I was wondering why Grassley’s account was targeted by a hacker today.

GMO on January 23, 2012 at 5:40 PM

All of Zero’s scandals will bubble up and out of the mud.

dogsoldier on January 23, 2012 at 2:44 PM

the LSM will not talk about them much if at all. they are in the tank for the owe’bamster.

Dr. Demento on January 23, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Grassley is just another corrupt pol. You don’t offer “bribes” to those you deem not bribeable. To the one’s who can’t be bribed, you make them offers they can’t refuse. Obviously, Grassley was offered a bribe because somewhere along his corruptable career, he has been successfully bribed. Question is, how often?

they lie on January 23, 2012 at 5:09 PM

you got any evidence? or are you just a saul alinsky disciple?

Dr. Demento on January 23, 2012 at 5:41 PM

s/b “don’t call me ma’am”

Flora Duh on January 23, 2012 at 3:17 PM

I’d never think of it! Maybe a few other choice words …

IrishEyes on January 23, 2012 at 5:53 PM

After two weeks, Grassley’s office has yet to get a response, and they have decided to make this public.

They won’t. Falcone and his lawyers are too busy parsing the language of the email to come up with an ‘innocent explanation’.

Maybe Barry can offer a beer summit with Grassley and Falcone.

GarandFan on January 23, 2012 at 5:54 PM

they lie on January 23, 2012 at 5:09 PM

And you leaped to that conclusion how Evel Knievel?

flytier on January 23, 2012 at 8:20 PM

The Democrats probably think he is a fool for not taking the bribe as they would have done.

lukjuj on January 23, 2012 at 11:00 PM

24,000 **feet**???? See attachment 1. In my business (space), any executive trying to sell another and not knowing the basic technical details – especially if communicating them in any fashion – would get the top of the head treatment… looking down at their smartphone for the rest of the briefing.

321mdl on January 24, 2012 at 12:39 AM

Regardless of his actual ethics, this one had to be a no-brainer for Grassley. You really can’t bribe any but the dumbest politicians to support something as obviously moronic as a communications network that can only operate by essentially shutting down the existing GPS system used by the military and millions of consumers. And maybe make planes fall from the sky.

The really smelly thing is that LSQ got investors, including Sprint and one Barrack H. Obama, to put money into this thing, presumably using a combination of lying about the real impact on GPS and playing up their supposed political influence in strong arming the FCC to approve it.

These guys had to have had ironclad assurances from the Democrats that they would get the green light from the Feds. But when they lost control of the House they couldn’t deliver, and Grassley is under no obligation to make good on the deal.

platapapin on January 24, 2012 at 1:09 AM

A sad commentary, that the occasion of a U.S. Senator actually following ethical rules of conduct is noteworthy. Imagine if Falcone, Ruelle & Co. had reason to make such an offer to a “D”. We certainly wouldn’t be hearing about it this way, if ever. The public would only know of a contact like that if and when the later ethics probes turned up the “deal” which Sen. Grassley dismissed out of hand.

Congressman Issa is going to be a very busy, and very targeted watched, man in the next year plus.

Freelancer on January 24, 2012 at 11:21 AM

Grassley is just another corrupt pol. You don’t offer “bribes” to those you deem not bribeable. To the one’s who can’t be bribed, you make them offers they can’t refuse. Obviously, Grassley was offered a bribe because somewhere along his corruptable career, he has been successfully bribed. Question is, how often?

they lie on January 23, 2012 at 5:09 PM

You don’t have a clue what you’re running your fingers about. Charles Grassley is my Senator and I’ve voted for him in every election…even when I was a deluded Democrat. He may not be the brightest bulb on the string but he’s absolutely incorruptible.

creeper on January 24, 2012 at 12:31 PM

This is the kind of stuff that absolutely needs to be front and center. Michelle Malkin needs to join the staff of whoever gets the nomination.

This weekend I visited dear friends who are big Obama supporters and who contribute the max allowed to his campaign. The husband brought up the debate in SC and was on Newt’s side of the cheap shot from the media. I asked what they thought of Solyndra. They’d never heard of it. I sked what they thought of Fast and Furious. They’d never heard of it. They will never hear of this unless we have a nominee who pounds on the corruption incessantly. This type of thing is exactly what could turn my friends and a lot of other people who think ol Barrack is merely misunderstood and disliked because of his color.

Portia46 on January 24, 2012 at 12:59 PM