SEC Nemesis Grassley Takes On FCC Over LightSquared

Jul 6 2011 | 11:57am ET

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is taking aim at another federal regulator's relationship with a major hedge fund.

Grassley, who has spent much of his career on Capitol Hill excoriating the Securities and Exchange Commission, most recently over its investigations—or lack thereof—of potential insider trading at SAC Capital Advisors, is now peeved at the Federal Communications Commission for "intentionally" ignoring his requests for information. Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, had sought documents related to the FCC's approval of Harbinger Capital Management's wireless venture, LightSquared.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Grassley complained that FCC officials had told congressional staffers that they "chose to intentionally ignore" document requests. Grassley also rapped Genachowski for failing to respond to written questions.

The senator called the regulator's obfuscation "an extreme position against transparency, which would stifle congressional oversight and public scrutiny."

LightSquared in January won a crucial, if tentative, waiver from the FCC, allowing it to use frequencies previously restricted to satellites. Since then, several tests have shown that the LightSquared network interferes—sometimes dramatically—with global positioning systems.

Grassley in April complained to Genachowski that the FCC may have failed to consider all points of view and asked for e-mails between the chairman and Harbinger founder Philip Falcone.

"You responded with a letter that did not respond to any of my questions," Grassley wrote in his letter yesterday.

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