By Andrew Feinberg - 05/16/12 06:11 PM EDT
An executive of the holding company owned by Google executives that leases a hangar at a government airfield responded on Wednesday to questions from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), saying Google has nothing to do with the aircraft in question.
Ken Ambrose, vice president of H211, the holding company owned by Google executives Larry Page and Sergei Brin that owns several aircraft stored at California's Moffett Airfield, a former naval air station now operated by NASA, told Grassley in a letter that "these are not Google corporate aircraft. They are privately owned and operated by principal executives of the company."
Ambrose also tells Grassley that H211 pays "above market rent" for the hangar at Moffett, and that the company has operated more than 150 scientific flights for NASA. A Google spokesman told The Hill that the aircraft are fitted with NASA equipment for these flights.
Ambrose responded to concerns that the Google executives are purchasing fuel at a reduced price by telling him that the only fuel available at the field is controlled by a Defense Department contractor, "so that is the fuel we use."
"At lease inception, we were advised of a plan to locate a full service Fixed Base Operator on the field which could sell services and fuel for our aircraft. NASA did not proceed with this plan, so we had to purchase our own fuel truck to support our 24/7 flight operations," he said.
Ambrose also told Grassley that House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has visited the field and has been briefed on the relationship.
Grassley told The Hill late Wednesday that his office had not yet recieved the letter from H2!!. But Grassley said it wasn't relavent to his investigation whether Google or another company controlled by Google's owners owned the planes.
"It wouldn't make a difference," he said.
-- Updated at 5:39pm with a quote from Sen. Grassley