A Republican who receives donations from AT&T is challenging Phil Falcone’s new wireless venture.The hedge fund manager is working with the White House on a new telecommunications company called LightSquared. Their aim is to create a broadband network and sell wireless wholesale.
The GPS industry hates it because it fears that the new network could mess with its signals. Lawmakers argue that it could interfere with military and defence signals as well. They’ve gone so far as to accuse the Obama Administration of pressuring Air Force officials not to testify to that effect. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced yesterday that his committee would begin investigating LightSquared on those charges.
According to Dealbook, though, that’s not where it ends. The latest thing to upset Republicans is Falcone’s donations– they prompted a questioning letter signed by 6 Republican lawmakers.
In his letter, Texas Representative Ralph Hall, chairman of the committee on science, space and technology, pointed out that LIghtSquared’s CEO, Sanjiv Ahuja, made a $30,400 donation to the Democratic Party the day two LightSquared employees contacted the White House for meetings.
Ahuja made a matching gift to the Republican Party a month later.
Also in their letter, Republicans noted that after Falcone met a White House staffer in 2009, he and his wife Lisa also made a $30,400 donation to the Democrats. To be fair, though, the couple and Falcone’s hedge fund, Harbinger Capital, have a history of making donations to the party amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And it should be noted that one of Representative Hall’s top five contributors is AT&T. They have given him more than $75,000 since 1989 and they also happen to be one of LightSquared’s potential competitors.
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