The Solyndra Scandal . . . Now Involving LightSquared!

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 20, 2011

Darrell Issa is going to investigate the Solyndra scandal, and well he should, because the scandal has a new twist. In addition to having secured low interest loans for a failing enterprise in Solyndra, the White House may have engaged in shenanigans regarding Air Force testimony to Congress that affected the business of a company called LightSquared:

LightSquared, a wireless network backed by billionaire Democratic donor Philip Falcone, could beam broadband Internet everywhere—but some military officials fear it could interfere with critical GPS signals. Now, as The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake exclusively reports, two U.S. officials allege the White House tried to influence their testimony to rush key testing, to LightSquare’s benefit.

A second government official has come forward saying the White House tried to influence his testimony concerning a wireless broadband project backed by a Democratic donor that military officials fear might impair sensitive satellite navigation systems.

Anthony Russo, director of the National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, told The Daily Beast he rejected “guidance” from the White House’s Office of Budget and Management suggesting he tell Congress that the government’s concerns about the project by the firm LightSquared could be resolved in 90 days, a timetable favorable to the company’s plans.

“They gave that to me and presumably the other witnesses,” Russo said. “There is one sentence I disagreed with, which said that I thought the testing could be resolved in 90 days. So I took it out.”

Russo said he objected to that language because “I have low confidence that we can complete all of the testing in 90 days.” He estimated that such testing would take at least six months. Russo called the White House efforts to alter his testimony “guidance rather than pressure.”

Russo’s comments come just days after four-star Air Force Gen. William Shelton, who heads U.S. Space Command, told Congress in a classified briefing that he felt pressured by the White House to change his testimony about the same project to make it more favorable to the company.

Shelton also rejected the suggested edits and testified he has concerns LightSquared’s project could interfere with Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) signals key to military navigation and targeting systems.

Curiously enough, “LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja met with the chief of staff for OSTP just eight days before Falcone and his wife gave $30,400 each to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). Ahuja also contributed $30,400 to the Democratic Party, though he made the same contribution to the Republican Party in 2009.” Now, to be fair, Falcone says that he is a registered Republican. But the campaign contributions, along with the unusual process by which the Federal Communications Commission granted LightSquared a waiver to implement its technology, lend plausibility to suspicions that the Administration’s dealings with LightSquared were quite un-kosher.

House investigations are therefore highly warranted. Too bad that there appear to be no investigations going on over at the Senate, but I am sure that the fact that the Senate is controlled by Democrats has nothing whatsoever to do with that fact.

Previous post:

Next post: