Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Is LightSquared, ScamSquared?

George Soros is a player in this one as is another billionaire, Phil Falcone.

According to Tim Carney:
Here's the potential scandal: Ahead of [Air Force Gen. William] Shelton's Congressional testimony, White House officials nudged Shelton to go easy on LightSquared, according to Daily Beast reporter Eli Lake. Shelton reportedly said that someone (presumably in the administration) had leaked the first draft of his testimony to LightSquared -- which Falcone denies.

Another government official said the White House pushed him to downplay the GPS worries.
Falcone is a big political donor who has given exclusively to Democrats and independents since Obama's election. Emails have surfaced showing LightSquared executives discussing donations to Obama's campaign in policy conversations with White House officials. Finally, there's the eye-catching detail that another Obama donor, George Haywood, steered then-Sen. Obama to invest $90,000 in the company (then named SkyTerra) back in 2005.

LightSquared's main lobbying firm is owned by Norman Brownstein, a major fundraiser for Obama's 2008 nominating convention.

Into this stew of lobbying, investments, regulation and influence, enter Soros...

n the LightSquared affair, Soros shows up repeatedly.

First, Soros is reportedly an investor in LightSquared. The Wall Street Journal reported in November 2010: "In 2009, while some investors were asking for withdrawals, others were lining up to put money into Harbinger. They included Soros Fund Management, which during the past year became a significant new investor, say people familiar with the matter."

I asked about this, but a Soros spokesman emailed me, "As a matter of policy, we don't confirm or deny information on our investments."

Additionally, the telecom- and tech-related liberal nonprofits Soros funds have gone to bat for LightSquared in its various policy fights. In April 2010, the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission backing Harbinger's business plans and met with an FCC commissioner on the matter. Four groups that belong to that coalition received six-figure gifts from Soros' Open Society Institute the year before.

Six months later, those four Soros-funded groups -- Free Press, Media Access Project, the New America Foundation, and Public Knowledge -- filed a joint comment backing LightSquared in a related regulatory matter.
There's more from Carney, here.


  1. There's a lot of opposition to LightSquared in aviation community - after all, interference with GPS signal is a matter of life and death to those of us who rely on it to keep aircraft away from meeting mountains.

  2. A Soros Fund Management files with the SEC: