Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has asked the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission to fulfill his commitment to make agency staff available to discuss the LightSquared wireless project with Grassley staff.
Grassley wants his staff to have a conversation with Paul de Sa, a top FCC staff member who is described as the “father” of the LightSquared project, before de Sa leaves the agency next month. When Grassley staff asked to meet with de Sa, the FCC’s legislative affairs director responded that he was “not available.”
In a letter to agency chairman Julius Genachowski, Grassley reminded Genachowski of his written statement to Grassley in October that he would “continue to make staff available to discuss this matter further” with Grassley and his staff at their “convenience.”
“The FCC chairman should make this staff member available to fulfill his commitment,” Grassley said. “Otherwise, the words weren’t meaningful. And the FCC’s lack of transparency on LightSquared and the questions it raises will continue.”
An FCC official is quoted in reaction to Grassley’s request to have his staff meet with de Sa as calling it a “witch hunt.” Grassley said, “Asking to meet with the ‘father’ of this project before he leaves the agency in a few weeks is due diligence, not a witch hunt. Besides, if this top FCC official has time to meet with the hedge fund owner behind LightSquared, he should have time for a meeting with Senate staff trying to shed some light on a controversy created at the FCC.”
Since last April, Grassley has been reviewing why the agency rushed approval of the LightSquared project without adequately exploring what turned out to be widespread concerns of interference with the Global Positioning System devices widely used by the military, first responders, aviation, precision agriculture, and consumer navigation.
The text of Grassley's letter to Genachowksi is available here. The chairman's letter from last October is available here.