LightSquared the FCC’s Solyndra?

posted at 11:05 am on February 21, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

I’ve been writing for weeks about the LightSquared and the FCC’s strange decisions to allow the firm owned by a billionaire hedge-fund manager and Obama donor to attempt to save billions of dollars in establishing a 4G cell network without buying approved spectrum allocations.   The refusal of the FCC to vet this effort themselves, when they had the capacity to determine almost immediately that LightSquared would interfere with military, aviation, and commercial GPS systems, has already prompted Senator Charles Grassley to launch his own investigation of the FCC’s actions and whether the White House exerted any undue influence over them.  LightSquared’s efforts came to an abrupt end this month when the FCC shut down their temporary waiver to operate on satellite-transmission frequencies and required them to end the use of their land-based cell tower systems.

However, Matthew Boyle puts this into a single narrative for the Daily Caller that shouldn’t be missed, connecting the dots and asking whether LightSquared will be the FCC’s Solyndra:

According to White House visitor logs, Obama’s new FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, a classmate of the president’s from Harvard Law School, met with White House Personnel Director Don Gips on Feb. 18, 2009. Gips’ personal financial disclosure forms show he had between $250,000 and $500,000 of his personal finances invested in SkyTerra via stock options. Gips bundled at least $500,000 in donations to Obama’s 2008 election campaign, and served on the advisory board of Obama’s White House transition team.

It’s unclear what specifically Gips and Genachowski were discussing at that White House meeting; but shortly after that meeting SkyTerra named two members of Obama’s White House transition team to senior leadership positions at the company. On March 9, 2009, SkyTerra hired Gary Epstein, an FCC political appointee for the first few months of the Obama administration and a member of Obama’s transition team, as its executive vice president. On May 11, 2009, SkyTerra named Jeff Carlisle, another Obama transition team member, to serve as its vice president of regulatory affairs.

Not too long after those Obama-tied hires, lawyers for Falcone’s Harbinger fired off an email that may suggest FCC coordination to approve the sale of SkyTerra to Harbinger outside of what is procedurally acceptable. In an email titled “we’re signed off with Team Telecom,” Henry Goldberg of Harbinger’s law firm, Goldberg, Godles, Weiner & Wright, wrote to FCC International Bureau Chief Howard Griboff on July 24, 2009.

“We’ll file the final letter early next week,” Goldberg wrote to Griboff, copying his law partner Joseph Godles.

According to an FCC order filed in March 2010, that FCC International Bureau approval didn’t really happen until a month later, on Aug. 24, 2009. Harbinger’s lawyers seemed to know a month ahead of time that the FCC would approve their proposal.

On the same day Goldberg sent that email to Griboff — July 24, 2009 — SkyTerra asked the FCC to allow it to delay the launch of a new satellite because there was a “potential delay in [its] delivery.” The FCC approved the request, but later denied a near-identical one for SkyTerra competitor GlobalStar based on “extenuating circumstances” in 2010. This appeared to be one in a long line of instances in which the FCC favored SkyTerra, the future LightSquared, over GlobalStar.

I guess GlobalStar didn’t hire enough Obama transition team members.  Recall, too, that Obama was one of the investors in SkyTerra and knew a number of the players involved, both professionally and socially.  That’s not the only time that the FCC and the Obama administration decided to pick winners and losers in competitive situations, either.  The FCC’s approval for Harbinger — owned by suddenly-minted Democratic donor Philip Falcone — to buy Skyterra and turn it into LightSquared hinged on blocking a deal between LSQ and ATT and Verizon for partnerships on the spectrum that LSQ would put into play.  That order didn’t become publicly known until the FCC proposed to reconsider it, and its inclusion apparently came at the behest of other Obama allies:

On April 12, 2010, just one week after Gips cashed in his personal stock, the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition – a left-wing group comprised of the New America Foundation, Free Press, Media Access Project and Public Knowledge — filed comments with the FCC opposing efforts to reconsider part of the agency’s decision to allow the Harbinger–SkyTerra merger. That coalition wanted to preserve the FCC’s requirement that LightSquared would not provide spectrum to AT&T and Verizon without prior FCC approval.

Left-wing billionaire George Soros is reported to have $200 million invested in Harbinger. His Open Society Institute has donated more than $1 million to the four groups that comprise the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition. …

AT&T and Verizon, shocked by the deal, sent scathing comments via their attorneys, questioning the reasoning behind the FCC’s decision.

“Although it is impossible to know what motivated the Commission’s insistence on merger conditions penalizing AT&T and Verizon — since neither the Bureau Order nor any public filing in the proceeding even addresses the issue — there is no possible justification for these conditions,” AT&T’s attorneys wrote, asking the FCC to reconsider the deal’s conditions.

While there is no clear evidence pointing to exactly why the FCC penalized Verizon and AT&T, the publicly stated goals of those Soros-funded organizations that supported the move may be a clue. They believe wireless spectrum “belongs to the public,” and should be subject to as little corporate influence as possible. Their goal is to create a community-oriented, taxpayer-subsidized and highly regulated broadband system, essentially making Internet access a public utility.

This goes way beyond the “public utility” approach.  This is crony capitalism at its most pure form, with government intervening to boost its friends and to kneecaps its perceived opponents.  In that way, it’s worse than Solyndra, which certainly involved government intervention that benefited donors to the President.  At least so far, nothing in the Solyndra story shows the Obama administration deliberately disadvantaging Solyndra’s competitors.

Be sure to read it all.  This needs a very public airing, and hopefully the House Energy and Commerce Committee chaired by Rep. Fred Upton will force Genachowski to respond to questions already raised by Grassley.


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I miss the days of the leftard screech HALLIBURTON! BUSH! CHENEY!

Good times.

bloviator on February 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM

The refusal of the FCC to vet this effort themselves, when they had the capacity to determine almost immediately that LightSquared would interfere with military, aviation, and commercial GPS systems, has already prompted Senator Charles Grassley to launch his own investigation of the FCC’s actions and whether the White House exerted any undue influence over them.

The actions deserve a Senate hearing on their own merits. During election season it would be even better.

hawkdriver on February 21, 2012 at 11:11 AM

No surprise here, but it still gets my ‘ire’ up.

listens2glenn on February 21, 2012 at 11:11 AM

Be sure to read it all. This needs a very public airing, and hopefully the House Energy and Commerce Committee chaired by Rep. Fred Upton will force Genachowski to respond to questions already raised by Grassley.

If the Obama administration can’t be held accountable for policies that get hundreds of people killed why would you believe they will be held accountable for financial fraud???

SWalker on February 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Nothing to see here, move along.

When are my elected representatives going to remove their heads from their boottocks and DO SOMETHING?!

JimboHoffa on February 21, 2012 at 11:14 AM

SWalker on February 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM

That’s a great point.

hawkdriver on February 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Crickets chirping

cmsinaz on February 21, 2012 at 11:16 AM

But “Rural broadband” sounded so innocuous.

Every time Obama says he is going to “invest” in something, it means massive corruption.

forest on February 21, 2012 at 11:18 AM

it’s worse than Solyndra

Far worse. Here the cronyism directly endangered national security.

petefrt on February 21, 2012 at 11:18 AM

Where the hell is ISSA on all this ? F & F aside- WHY can’t he begin a fact finding investigation on this like Solyndra ? Is he afraid the House can handle the neg publicity coming from the liberal networks?

Is he worried about a low congressional approval rating or sumptin ?

FlaMurph on February 21, 2012 at 11:18 AM

When are my elected representatives going to remove their heads from their boottocks and DO SOMETHING?!

JimboHoffa on February 21, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Unless they come to believe that they are in serious danger of being kicked out of office and then held personally responsible for criminal malfeasance they won’t.

SWalker on February 21, 2012 at 11:20 AM

At least so far, nothing in the Solyndra story shows the Obama administration deliberately disadvantaging Solyndra’s competitors.

maybe not its competitors, but certainly its investors…..ie, you n’ me bud.

ted c on February 21, 2012 at 11:21 AM

I miss the days of the leftard screech HALLIBURTON! BUSH! CHENEY!

Good times.

bloviator on February 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Isn’t that the truth!
How come no one from the administration is “in league” with the oil companies anymore when the price of gas goes up?
Light Squared? Solyndra? I think there are more department and agencies where JugEar appointees are involved in the same behavior…we just don’t know it yet! It’s like the John Edwards affair…the MSM DIDN’T KNOW!

KOOLAID2 on February 21, 2012 at 11:21 AM

it’s not “crony capitalism” … it’s corruption.

And Frank Luntz agrees.

williampeck1958 on February 21, 2012 at 11:22 AM

What’s that famous crr6 quote? Something about cool names for fake scandals… LOL LOL LOL…

SWalker on February 21, 2012 at 11:23 AM

O/T, A New Chris Christie Ad!

Governor Chris Christie: Fighting the Fights Worth Fighting
Uploaded by GovChristie on Feb 21, 2012
http://www.breakingnews.com/
***************************************

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEx4sTBHIhA

canopfor on February 21, 2012 at 11:24 AM

And just what will be done about it by the head-in-the-sand Republicans? Nothing! They’re too used to seeing it all.

artman1746 on February 21, 2012 at 11:24 AM

I must say it’s just getting hard to keep up…

Akzed on February 21, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Congratulations!!!11!11!1!1 We beat LightSquared, now we can go back to overpaying for cellphone service, because of the lack of competition!!! Woooo, thanks a lot for beating a service that could have decrease service cost and increased 4g LTE coverage!! Thanks for allowing other spectrum users (ie GPS manufactures) to sell a product whose frequency dips into LightSquared’s frequency.

I guess those are all facts that seemed to be forgotten. If we had mandated that all GPS systems only use their spectrum, we could have increased the number of cell phone towers and actually had a competitive market. Everyone seems to forget that this companies business plan was to give smaller cell phone service providers the ability to compete with Att and Verizon.

ArkyDore on February 21, 2012 at 11:26 AM

According to pricing data released by Mr. Obama’s campaign Wednesday, it appears that his investments, both made in February 2005, included up to $90,000 in SkyTerra, a satellite communications company, and $9,000 in AVI BioPharma, a biotech company.

Both amounts are higher than previously estimated, though Mr. Obama’s aides have said he sold the stocks eight months later for a net loss of $13,000.

The record seems to indicate that Obama decided not to put any stocks into a blind trust, but instead decided to liquidate all of them, at a loss

J_Crater on February 21, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Unless they come to believe that they are in serious danger of being kicked out of office and then held personally responsible for criminal malfeasance they won’t.

SWalker on February 21, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Let the electoral bloodletting begin. It is past time.

JimboHoffa on February 21, 2012 at 11:31 AM

This ‘rural broadband’ issue is a fraud to begin with. Private companies have built or are now building 3g and 4g wireless and fiber optic networks in very rural areas.

Here a company got $36 million is Porkulus funds to build 3G in rural PA under the premise that there was no such service. Problem with that is that all of the other carriers already have 3G in the region and are building 4G already. Local phone and cable companies are expanding fiber rings too.

forest on February 21, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Isn’t it great the Obama administration is so scandal-free? It gives me more time to read about this, as well as about Media Matters, its plan to hire “private investigators,” and Obama’s Watergate.

Drained Brain on February 21, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Both amounts are higher than previously estimated, though Mr. Obama’s aides have said he sold the stocks eight months later for a net loss of $13,000.

If you are able to control transactions in a trust, it isn’t a blind trust.

BobMbx on February 21, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Tracking,and progress of the Loot!!!!
————————————-

ENERGY.GOV.

Recovery Act Recipient Data

A listing of all Recovery Act recipients and their allocations. Updated weekly.
****************

recoveryactfunding_25.xls

(Clicking on this brings up the whole 10 yards,when you go
to this site)

http://energy.gov/downloads/recovery-act-recipient-data
===========================================================

Recovery Act Selections for Smart Grid Investment Grant Awards – By State – Updated November 2011
********************************

List of selections for the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program organized by State. Within each State the projects are organized by size. The data includes the headquarters State and City for each recipient as well as the name of the recipient, a brief description of the project, the Recovery Act funding and the total project value.

http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/SGIG%20Awards%20%20By%20State%202011%2011%2015.pdf

canopfor on February 21, 2012 at 11:34 AM

O/T

Live feed!

Video: LIVE VIDEO — Obama on payroll tax cut extension
********************************************************

http://www.breakingnews.com/

canopfor on February 21, 2012 at 11:36 AM

List of selections for the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program organized by State. Within each State the projects are organized by size. The data includes the headquarters State and City for each recipient as well as the name of the recipient, a brief description of the project, the Recovery Act funding and the total project value.

http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/SGIG%20Awards%20%20By%20State%202011%2011%2015.pdf

canopfor on February 21, 2012 at 11:34 AM

I am soooo reporting you to “Truth Watch” for that…… BWAH HAH HAH HAH..

SWalker on February 21, 2012 at 11:36 AM

Ordinarily, in a non-corrupt administration, Barry would be Øne&dØne.
However, given the fact that so many Americans seem to be inured to all of his illegal shenanigans, Barry Oh? might be the most “Teflon” POTUS evah.
There is still time to get this ‘out there’. If only people would wake up.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on February 21, 2012 at 11:38 AM

And just what will be done about it by the head-in-the-sand Republicans? Nothing! They’re too used to seeing it all.

artman1746 on February 21, 2012 at 11:24 AM

The Republicans are wondering when their voters will be as dumbed down as the typical Dem voter so that they too can indulge.

Kungfoochimp on February 21, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Not a huge fan of Beck’s, but if he were still on Fox, he’d be laying this and F&F out for everyone to see. Hannity the hack, barely touches on either scandal. Corruption, right out in the open, under our noses and nobody blinks an eye. “It’s the dismal tide, not just the one thing.”

Norky on February 21, 2012 at 11:38 AM

The actions deserve a Senate hearing on their own merits. During election season it would be even better.

hawkdriver on February 21, 2012 at 11:11 AM

hawkdriver:GoodMorning,one would think,that its common sense to do
so!:)

canopfor on February 21, 2012 at 11:39 AM

At least so far, nothing in the Solyndra story shows the Obama administration deliberately disadvantaging Solyndra’s competitors.

…but of course. This is a professional administration./

This needs a very public airing, and hopefully the House Energy and Commerce Committee chaired by Rep. Fred Upton will force Genachowski to respond to questions already raised by Grassley.

My head is swirling…too many ‘G’ names to make sense…arrgghhh!!

askwhatif on February 21, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Not a huge fan of Beck’s, but if he were still on Fox, he’d be laying this and F&F out for everyone to see. Hannity the hack, barely touches on either scandal. Corruption, right out in the open, under our noses and nobody blinks an eye. “It’s the dismal tide, not just the one thing.”

Norky on February 21, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Even Beck doesn’t have the cajonies to touch Fast and Furious.

SWalker on February 21, 2012 at 11:41 AM

canopfor on February 21, 2012 at 11:34 AM
——————————————

I am soooo reporting you to “Truth Watch” for that…… BWAH HAH HAH HAH..

SWalker on February 21, 2012 at 11:36 AM

SWalker:I`ve gots a whole archive of Stimulus Bailout sites for
tracking Hopeys failed spending,ahahahhahah,bring it,
oh wait,crap,maybe I`ll get extradited,er,or worse,
renditioned……*runs into the bush*….(sarc)!!

canopfor on February 21, 2012 at 11:43 AM

My head is swirling…too many ‘G’ names to make sense…arrgghhh!!

askwhatif on February 21, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Good Grief … Genachowski, Gips, Goldberg, Griboff, Godles, GlobalStar, Gary, George

Lost in Jersey on February 21, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Most corrupt administration, evah!

GarandFan on February 21, 2012 at 11:52 AM

And the MSM remains silent…on this and all the “drama” going on with the Administration. But we’ll hear as we move closer to November —– no scandals in this administration!!!!

CoffeeLover on February 21, 2012 at 11:54 AM

canopfor on February 21, 2012 at 11:39 AM

As SWalker noted, not our media.

hawkdriver on February 21, 2012 at 12:03 PM

You heard it here first folks,and nowhere else.

docflash on February 21, 2012 at 12:09 PM

As SWalker noted, not our media.

hawkdriver on February 21, 2012 at 12:03 PM

One of those issues where I really really wished I was wrong. The Fourth Estate has become the Fifth Column.

SWalker on February 21, 2012 at 12:12 PM

No wonder the regime doesn’t have time to actually do the job they were elected to do. They spend all their time figuring out how to pick our pockets.

Kissmygrits on February 21, 2012 at 12:12 PM

What will come of this sordid corruption and political villainy?

 

Nothing. It’s just business as usual.

 

Oh. Okay.

SD Tom on February 21, 2012 at 12:13 PM

The average person doesn’t care. They’re too busy playing with their iPhone 4 or watching ‘Housewives of the where-ever’ or deciding what to buy next.

They will care, however, when continued government intervention in the private sector causes real economic turmoil and threatens to inhibit their ability to buy awesome consumer goods.

But this is OK, because big government-types will just explain to them that all their problems will be solved with more government!

LilyBart on February 21, 2012 at 12:13 PM

In a way, all of us have an el Guapo to face some day.

For the Justice Department, Fast and Furious is their el Guapo.

For the FCC, Light Squared is their el Guapo.

For the Energy Department, Solyndra is their el Guapo.

For the White House, Michelle’s vacations are their el Guapo.

For us, el Guapo is a big powerful president that wants to kill American capitalism.

HakerA on February 21, 2012 at 12:23 PM

At least so far, nothing in the Solyndra story shows the Obama administration deliberately disadvantaging Solyndra’s competitors.

I submit that aiding one group while not aiding its competitors disadvantages the competitors. Solyndra’s competitors didn’t have the depth of funding Solyndra had — and with Federal loans backing Solyndra, it could far more easily secure more private funding than its competitors. I would say that any decision in which our Government meddles in business is a deliberate attempt to pick winners and losers.

unclesmrgol on February 21, 2012 at 12:45 PM

canopfor on February 21, 2012 at 11:39 AM
——————————————

As SWalker noted, not our media.

hawkdriver on February 21, 2012 at 12:03 PM

hawkdriver:Yup..*Sigh*!:)

canopfor on February 21, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Gee… Nixon gets kneecapped for a little break-in and Obama is free to do this stuff without MSM investigating.

But I forget- He won.

Elections have consequences.

steved95 on February 21, 2012 at 2:02 PM

…For us, el Guapo is a big powerful president that wants to kill American capitalism.

HakerA on February 21, 2012 at 12:23 PM

One might even say, a plethora of el Guapo’s, amigo.

bofh on February 21, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Congratulations!!!11!11!1!1 We beat LightSquared, now we can go back to overpaying for cellphone service, because of the lack of competition!!! Woooo, thanks a lot for beating a service that could have decrease service cost and increased 4g LTE coverage!! Thanks for allowing other spectrum users (ie GPS manufactures) to sell a product whose frequency dips into LightSquared’s frequency.

I guess those are all facts that seemed to be forgotten. If we had mandated that all GPS systems only use their spectrum, we could have increased the number of cell phone towers and actually had a competitive market. Everyone seems to forget that this companies business plan was to give smaller cell phone service providers the ability to compete with Att and Verizon.

ArkyDore on February 21, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Right. Go ahead and tell the US Military and the FAA to sacrifice sensitivity in receivers so you can download the latest Lady Gaga video at lightning fast speeds.

Let us know how that works out.

Wendya on February 21, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Congratulations!!!11!11!1!1 We beat LightSquared, now we can go back to overpaying for cellphone service, because of the lack of competition!!!

Your welcome.
What lack of competition?

Woooo, thanks a lot for beating a service that could have decrease service cost and increased 4g LTE coverage!!

Errrrrrrrrr what?

LightSquared will unleash the boundless opportunity of wireless broadband connectivity for all. We believe that it is time to transform the broadband industry to one that truly fosters innovation, creativity, and freedom of choice-with limitless and .

..
Sounds like shovel ready projects and Obama are will reduce cost’s and oh unemployment will not go above 8.5%!

Thanks for allowing other spectrum users (ie GPS manufactures) to sell a product whose frequency dips into LightSquared’s frequency.

LightSquared never had a frequency to dip into, what they were trying to get was the frequency’s used by the military, that’s a bad idea

LightSquared mission statement
LightSquaredwill unleash the boundless opportunity of wireless broadband connectivity for all. We believe that it is time to transform the broadband industry to one that truly fosters innovation, creativity, and freedom of choice—with limitless and unimaginable possibilities.
Note: nowhere in their mission-statement do they claim the plan was to give smaller cell phone service providers the ability to compete with Att and Verizon.

I guess those are all facts that seemed to be forgotten.

That would be the nonexistent facts, yes?

If we had mandated that all GPS systems only use their spectrum,

their spectrum? Are you referring the to the military spectrum?

we could have increased the number of cell phone towers and actually had a competitive market. Everyone seems to forget that this companies business plan was to give smaller cell phone service providers the ability to compete with Att and Verizon.

No it wasn’t see their mission statement above! Are you really this misinformed or are you intentionally lying?

ArkyDore on February 21, 2012 at 11:26 AM

DSchoen on February 21, 2012 at 3:03 PM

At least so far, nothing in the Solyndra story shows the Obama administration deliberately disadvantaging Solyndra’s competitors.

Didn’t even know that was a question concerning Solyndra? However when the tax payers pay for your building, the equipment to manufacture with and the payroll of the employees that’s an advantage Solyndra got that it’s competitors didn’t! If that’s not disadvantaging Solyndra’s competitors, what is?

DSchoen on February 21, 2012 at 3:16 PM

If only that general that the white house pressured had testified that LightSquared wouldn’t be a problem. Then it would have been a success.

It all would have worked if the General had played ball. And if it wasn’t for those darned kids (“Good one, Shaggie!”)

iurockhead on February 21, 2012 at 4:54 PM

If the Obama administration can’t be held accountable for policies that get hundreds of people killed why would you believe they will be held accountable for financial fraud???
SWalker on February 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Because the companies they dissed have money and lawyers?
(Well, maybe not accountable-accountable, but let’s watch where AT&T and Verizon put their campaign money this time around.)

AesopFan on February 21, 2012 at 7:56 PM

If only that general that the white house pressured had testified that LightSquared wouldn’t be a problem. Then it would have been a success.

It all would have worked if the General had played ball. And if it wasn’t for those darned kids (“Good one, Shaggie!”)

iurockhead on February 21, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Of course the general MAY have been thinking about the possibility of US drones suddenly going beserk…falling out of the sky because they lost GPS guidance…carrying live ammo to random emergency landings…in Afghanistan and Pakistan…on his watch. That WOULD have been a career-ending (and possibly freedom-ending) problem for the general!!!

landlines on February 21, 2012 at 9:56 PM

You forgot to add:

And then after this business is completed, the aforementioned company then gets funding through the USF (universal service fund)…which is practically run by the FCC and it’s unconstitutional ability to control the tax rate for the USF.

John Kettlewell on February 21, 2012 at 10:25 PM

. If we had mandated that all GPS systems only use their spectrum..,

ArkyDore on February 21, 2012 at 11:26 AM

From the tone of your comment: blinky…is that you???

You seem to think that Congress and/or Federal Bureaucrats can mandate changes to the laws of physics, and that spectral boundaries have infinitely sharp edges enforced by border guards.

This kind of thinking has actually been tried by government already: Several decades ago, Mexico passed a law which prohibited Mexican radio waves from crossing the Mexican border. Guess how that turned out???

landlines on February 21, 2012 at 10:55 PM