LightSquared CEO resigns after FCC failure; Update: House panel to open probe? Update: Grassley statement added

posted at 2:30 pm on February 28, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

With the end near in the LightSquared saga, it comes as no surprise that the leadership of the company that failed to get the FCC to allow LSQ to interfere with GPS systems has decided to pursue other opportunities.  LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja departs as questions remain about how LSQ connections at the White House impacted the decision-making process at the FCC:

LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday amid revelations LightSquared’s political proximity — and his own closeness — to the White House and Obama administration officials.

The Daily Caller first reported one week ago on emails and documents that indicate the Federal Communications Commission propped up LightSquared with favorable regulatory decisions as company executives met with administration officials at the White House and in other places. Obama’s FCC also appears to have used its regulatory muscle to eliminate LightSquared’s competitor, GlobalStar.

TheDC also uncovered a pattern of political contributions to Democrats that appear engineered to create a favorable political climate for LightSquared. Ahuja, who had never donated to Democrats before and has not since, gave the maximum allowable $30,400 contribution to the Democratic National Committee on the same day his lawyers were trying to arrange a meeting for him at the White House with top Obama technology adviser Aneesh Chopra and other officials.

In emails between Ahuja’s lawyers and White House officials Ahuja wanted to meet with, his lawyers pointed out that he would attend an Obama fundraiser on or about the same day he wanted the meeting.

I’d assume that the resignation proceeds from the failure to deliver on the FCC waiver than any worries about suspicions of crony capitalism.  Philip Falcone, whose hedge fund owns LightSquared and who is also a donor to Obama, has taken an even closer role with LSQ than before — and still intends to get the FCC to grant the waiver:

The move could signal an even greater role for LightSquared’s controversial backer, Philip Falcone. As LightSquared’s top financier, Falcone has long been the public face of the controversy and will now take a seat on the board of directors.

Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund has put about $3 billion into the LightSquared venture and on Tuesday Falcone vowed to take an “aggressive approach” to ensure the company has enough money to operate. Last week LightSquared said it is cutting 45 percent of its 330-person workforce. …

Falcone said he is still working to overcome the GPS interference issues and launch a network.

“We of course agree that it is critical to ensure that national security, aviation and the GPS communities are protected,” Falcone said in a statement. “I am confident that working together, we can solve this problem and bring the American consumer the lower priced 4G wireless alternative they need and deserve.”

Be sure to check out the links below to see how Falcone proposed to get that “lower priced 4G wireless alternative,” but it’s probably academic at this point anyway.  Testing of the LSQ system showed beyond a doubt that it created significant interference with a wide range of GPS services, including in aviation and defense applications.  The FCC has now terminated LSQ’s permission to use its terrestrial towers for developing the network.  Ahuja got out ahead of the collapse.

Update: Or perhaps Ahuja got out ahead of the investigation.  A press release from the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced that the panel would seek documents relating to the failed LSQ venture and FCC actions taken over the last year:

Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today requested additional information regarding the interference dispute between LightSquared and GPS and the actions taken by federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission, in approving LightSquared’s terrestrial network without better addressing potentially serious interference concerns. As the committee with jurisdiction over federal communications policy, committee members have been monitoring the progress of the proposed deployment of the broadband network. However, with the recent tentative decision to limit LightSquared’s license to satellite-based service, there remain many unanswered questions, particularly whether the processes used by the FCC, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the interagency National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing were appropriate. The issues underlying the dispute also have broader implications for spectrum management generally.

As noted in the links below, Sen. Charles Grassley demanded answers on these same points, but got stonewalled by FCC chair Julius Genachowski because Grassley wasn’t a committee chair with jurisdiction over the FCC.  Rep. Fred Upton chairs House Energy and Commerce, which has direct jurisdiction over the FCC.  This could get very, very interesting.

Update II: Grassley’s office sends his statement on the House Energy and Commerce letter:

“The FCC said it wouldn’t give internal documents about LightSquared to any members of Congress except the chairmen of the two committees that oversee the FCC.  Now one of those two committee chairmen is asking for internal documents.  It will be hard for the agency to ignore this request.  The House committee that’s seeking information from the FCC is fulfilling its oversight responsibilities.  As a federal agency, like all government agencies, the FCC should account for its actions.  The House request is good news for accountability and transparency. Since the FCC has refused my document request since last April, and it’s too early to tell whether the FCC will comply with the House request, I’m maintaining my hold on the two FCC nominees until I receive access to the documents I requested, whether that’s from the FCC, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, or the Senate Commerce Committee.”

Stay tuned.


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

Obama MAD! Obama SMASH!

Actually this could be why the SuperPAC isn’t doing so well… To this point, Obama has been consistent only in “staying bought”. He didn’t deliver for Lightsquared.

wildcat72 on February 28, 2012 at 2:31 PM

LightSquared = CronyismSquared

Bitter Clinger on February 28, 2012 at 2:32 PM

Crony Socialism at it’s best.

Chip on February 28, 2012 at 2:33 PM

The only reason this deal did not go down was because Jarrett said,
“Baroque darling, this technology could result in planes falling out of the air and missiles hitting community centers. Who cares, I know. But Dave tells me the optics are bad. Here is your multiple choice questionnaire, check option A. Good boy.”

CorporatePiggy on February 28, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Golden Parachute will activate in 3… 2… 1…

RoadRunner on February 28, 2012 at 2:36 PM

It’s easy to jump when you have a golden parachute.

Flange on February 28, 2012 at 2:36 PM

A hit to Obama’s Syndicalism?

tom daschle concerned on February 28, 2012 at 2:36 PM

Sure is a good thing that there’s not a single scandal in the Won’s administration. They are all squeaky clean.

climbnjump on February 28, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund has put about $3 billion into the LightSquared venture

$3 billion,Falcone may end up sleeping with the fishes.

docflash on February 28, 2012 at 2:38 PM

WOW! If this evidence can be substantiated with WH visitor logs (scrubbed nightly to make sure only “Doodad Pro” appears on it), then this is serious corruption and the MSM response will be ….

ZzzzzzzzZZzzzzzzzz…….ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz….ZZzzzzzzzzzz

Dang! Who let all these crickets in here?!?!?

Not to be racist here (although I am a conservative so I guess that makes me guilty as charged), but could our south Asian Indian friends please leave the corrupt practices of bribery that are rampant in their country’s government in India…we have enough problems with the Chicago Mob that is currently inhabiting the WH….

powerpickle on February 28, 2012 at 2:38 PM

LightSquared CEO resigns after FCC failure
…and what job in the OBOZO campaign did he take?

TeaPartyNation on February 28, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Testing of the LSQ system showed beyond a doubt that it created significant interference with a wide range of GPS services, including in aviation and defense applications. The FCC has now terminated LSQ’s permission to use its terrestrial towers for developing the network. Ahuja got out ahead of the collapse.

Let’s watch for a golden parachute to pop open, Ed…..

ted c on February 28, 2012 at 2:40 PM

aw shucks, Roadrunner and flange beat me to the pop of the parachute.

ted c on February 28, 2012 at 2:41 PM

WOW! If this evidence can be substantiated with WH visitor logs (scrubbed nightly to make sure only “Doodad Pro” appears on it), then this is serious corruption and the MSM response will be ….

ZzzzzzzzZZzzzzzzzz…….ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz….ZZzzzzzzzzzz

Dang! Who let all these crickets in here?!?!?

powerpickle on February 28, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Didn’t you get the memo?

The Downgrade Administration is scandal-free according to the Socialist National Media – that’s their story and they’re sticking to it!

Chip on February 28, 2012 at 2:42 PM

ted c on February 28, 2012 at 2:40 PM

It’s hard not to immediately jump on that.

Flange on February 28, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Somebody must have explained it to Barry that Air Force One and his golf cart uses GPS and if the FCC approves this then it might be that much harder for him to have fun.

Happy Nomad on February 28, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Somebody must have explained it to Barry that Air Force One and his golf cart uses GPS and if the FCC approves this then it might be that much harder for him to have fun.

Happy Nomad on February 28, 2012 at 2:47 PM

And for Michelle to take her next vacation.

Bitter Clinger on February 28, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Or perhaps Ahuja got out ahead of the investigation

yeah, because we all know how much the (r)’s want to hold people accountable for their actions. What exactly have they done in the last 12 years to show that they care about people being held to account for their actions? Scooter Liby? I guess we know why Romney is popular amongst the D.C. super elite!

astonerii on February 28, 2012 at 2:51 PM

aw shucks, Roadrunner and flange beat me to the pop of the parachute.

ted c on February 28, 2012 at 2:41 PM

It’s ok ted c …if enough of us keep talking… maybe they will have more than a ‘probe’…where there is nothing but stalling….and the media just sits on their thumbs…(or asks/talks about condoms)!

KOOLAID2 on February 28, 2012 at 2:52 PM

The very definition of Fascism.

Gibson Guitar: Bad

LightSquared: Good

Bulletchaser on February 28, 2012 at 2:59 PM

…suspicions of crony capitalism…

Ed, at this late stage of the game and what we know about Obama, you have the courage to use the word “suspicions”?

Good grief!

timberline on February 28, 2012 at 3:01 PM

This could get very, very interesting.

Nah, Genachowski will just pull a Holder and say that while he “got the memos”, he never really READ any of them. He’ll say he only became aware of the problem a couple of days AFTER he got the subpoena from The House Energy and Commerce Committee.

GarandFan on February 28, 2012 at 3:05 PM

quid pro quo in effect at the white house. That is verrry illegal. This Anji guy is going to jail (thrown under the bus).

jake49 on February 28, 2012 at 3:08 PM

DOJ,”squid pro row” right nothing wrong with that, if we knew what it meant.

jake49 on February 28, 2012 at 3:10 PM

I anxiously await the petty griping that the Republicans are wasting time investigating rather than passing bills…even though the Dem Senate is killing everything they touch.

MikeSC on February 28, 2012 at 3:11 PM

“President Obowma is really a nice guy…

… He’s just a little bit in over his head.

“It’s very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments,” Romney told reporters. “We’ve seen throughout the campaign that if you’re willing to say really outrageous things that are accusatory and attacking President Obama that you’re going to jump up in the polls. You know, I’m not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support. I am who I am.”
– Mittens

Seven Percent Solution on February 28, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Job opening at new Comrade Obama company called AlgaeSquared. It’ a new green energy company that will need some corrupt Dimocrats to run it (into bankruptcy) !!

Marco on February 28, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Pardon by dear leader shortly thereafter

cmsinaz on February 28, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Light Squared = Stupid Cubed.

Typical math for President 10-289.

D-

MichaelGabriel on February 28, 2012 at 3:28 PM

….GOP investigation begins after town is burned down and criminals are already gone. But at least it looks good.

search4truth on February 28, 2012 at 3:30 PM

This stuff drive me crazy.

Cindy Munford on February 28, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Follow the money — all the way to the bitter end.

FlatFoot on February 28, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Update: Or perhaps Ahuja got out ahead of the investigation.

Yepper.

Bombshell goes off 5… 4… 3… It’s gonna put the WH back on its heels, too.

Popcorn ready yet?

petefrt on February 28, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Job opening at new Comrade Obama company called AlgaeSquared.

Marco on February 28, 2012 at 3:23 PM

AlgaeSquared!

+100

petefrt on February 28, 2012 at 4:32 PM

I would not count Falcone out yet…. never say never with this administration.

AndAero on February 28, 2012 at 5:52 PM

Run Awaaaaaaay!!

Tim_CA on February 28, 2012 at 9:04 PM

There should also be FCC resignations, plus resignations for all who were involved in selling favorable government actions in exchange for “campaign contributions” and various favors.

landlines on February 29, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Watch. Ahuja will be the next manufactured “secratary” of something or other in the Obastard administration.

Colatteral Damage on February 29, 2012 at 4:29 PM