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Grassley Says LightSquared E-mails Smack of Improper Contact - Broadcasting & Cable

Grassley Says LightSquared E-mails Smack of Improper Contact

Said two emails from both Falcone and someone claiming to represent LightSquared "intimated benefits for Grassley if he softened his inquiry of government approval of the project"
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Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who has been
seeking information from the FCC and others about LightSquared's waiver to
launch a 4g wholesale wireless network, has written to LightSquared principal
Philip Falcone to ask him to explain what the Senator calls a questionable
contact with the Senator's office over the issue.

In
the letter, Grassley said that contact, comprising e-mails from both Falcone
and a person claiming to represent LightSquared, "that intimated benefits
for Grassley if he softened his inquiry of government approval of the
project."

Grassley
said Falcone's e-mail -- he supplied a redacted copy to the press -- suggested
that the network could be a "win" for Grassley, while the second
example -- an e-mail string with someone who Grassley says also arranged a Fox
News Channel booking for Falcone -- "hinted" that Iowa could get a call
center. According to the e-mail's, after Grassley's office signaled that they
thought the suggestion was inappropriate, the representative said he was only
pointing out the local connection of the issue for the Senator.

"Mr. Ruelle does not, nor has he ever, worked for Mr. Falcone, Harbinger or LightSquared as an employee or a consultant," said Harbinger spokesman Lew Phelps. "No one at Harbinger or LightSquared has had any discussions or negotiations with Mr. Ruelle with respect to approaching or contacting Senator Grassley's office regarding an alleged quid pro quo, or a call center in Iowa, which in any event would be inconsistent with the LightSquared wholesale business model. If such conversations occurred, Mr. Ruelle was acting entirely on his own and without the knowledge, authority, or endorsement of Mr. Falcone, Harbinger or LightSquared."

Grassley
is concerned that the FCC rushed the waiver of the network without sufficiently
vetting the impact of the network on GPS. The FCC made the
waiver conditional on resolving government GPS issues, and has since
said it would not approve the network until those issues are resolved.

The
National Telecommunications & Information Administration is currently
preparing a report to the FCC on recent government testing of LightSquared that
concluded it produced too much interference with GPS to be viable in either
the short or long-term, results LightSquared has dismissed as bogus and
controlled by GPS interests.

Grassley
has also threatened to block any attempt seat two new FCC commissioners until
the FCC produces documents related to the waiver. The FCC has put some
correspondence online related to FOIA requests, but Grassley's office says that
is not responsive to the request and that in the meantime the hold threat
remains.

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