Expect the brewing Obama administration LightSquared “pay to play” scandal to be front and center later this Fall.
Today, Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH), Chairman of the House Armed Services officially asked on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, to launch an investigation into the charge that the Obama administration put Democratic party politics ahead of national security.
Rep. Turner and five other lawmakers from the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces asked Issa (R-CA) to investigate the Obama administration’s fast tracking of a broadband wireless system supported by a big Democratic donor that could jeopardize national security.
Specifically, they asked the oversight committee to examine the roles played by the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, the White House, and LightSquared. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget, its science policy office and the FCC were involved in accelerating approval for LightSquared’s wireless program. Air Force General William Shelton, the commander of the U.S. Space Command had objected to the program saying it would interfere with military’s Global Positioning System.
OMB tried to get Gen. Shelton to change his testimony and secretly passed onto LightSquared the general’s congressional testimony that was to be delivered before the Armed Services Committee.
Commercial telecom companies have complained that the LightSquared program would interfere with aviation, marine and consumer GPS systems too.
Earlier this year, the FCC issued an unusual waiver of its own long established rules even after the Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn warned the FCC Chairman LightSquared would interfere with national security.
LightSquared executives each gave the Democratic Party more than $30,000 in the hopes they could grease the skids on getting the fast track FCC approval. The relationship between the wireless company and President Obama goes back to 2005 when then Senator Obama briefly invested $50,000 in LightSquared’s predecessor company. The President’s personnel director also invested a half a million dollars in the earlier wireless company.
LightSquared positioned itself to be the company to erect 400,000 wireless towers throughout the country to meet an ambitious Obama goal of providing broadband wireless to 98% of the American people.
Members of the House subcommittee said in a letter to Issa and ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings, “It is troubling to see reports of high dollar donors being given unusual consideration in the regulatory process, especially when the consequences entail what Air Force General William Shelton called ‘significant interference to military GPS.’”