Grassley not satisfied with FCC documents, will keep hold on nominees

{mosads}In February, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which does oversee the FCC, launched their own probe into the agency’s review of LightSquared.

The FCC provided the documents to the committee last month, and the committee shared the documents with Grassley on Friday.

But a spokeswoman for the senator claimed that all of the documents had been previously released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

“Therefore, Sen. Grassley’s hold on the FCC nominees will continue until the FCC demonstrates its commitment to comply with the House committee’s request and produce new, internal documents,” the spokeswoman said. 

But an FCC official said the release does contain new, internal documents.

“Thousands of pages submitted to the committee contain confidential information that is not in the public domain,” the official said. 

Grassley’s spokeswoman said the senator will continue to “work closely” with the committee Republicans.

“Sen. Grassley expects this process will lead to more transparency from the FCC that will help to hold the commission accountable and allow the FCC commissioner nominees to move forward,” she said. 

Because of Grassley’s hold, the five-member commission has been operating with only three commissioners since the beginning of the year.

The FCC granted LightSquared a conditional waiver last year to move forward with plans for a nationwide 4G network, but the agency now plans to block the network after tests showed it could interfere with GPS devices, including ones used by airplane pilots.

Some Republicans have questioned whether the FCC and the White House showed inappropriate favoritism to LightSquared. Last September, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) accused Obama of “crony capitalism” for allegedly giving favor to his political supporters, pointing to Philip Falcone, who has invested billions of dollars in the company. 

Falcone has donated to both Democrats and Republicans in recent years and says he is a registered Republican. He has denied any attempts to influence the process through political connections. 

The White House and the FCC have denied giving any special treatment to LightSquared, but expanding high-speed Internet access is a priority for the administration.

–Updated at 2:29 p.m.

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