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LightSquared CEO Resigns Amid Appearance of Bribery 211

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the punished-with-huge-severance-package dept.
New submitter msauve writes "LightSquared, the company who's request to use make use of spectrum in a way likely to interfere with GPS was recently denied, has suffered another setback. CEO Sanjiv Ahuja has now resigned, only a week after a report detailing political contributions and the personal financial interests of Obama and officials in his administration in SkyTerra, the precursor company to LightSquared. Ahuja's one and only contribution to the Democratic Party occurred on the same day he tried to arrange a meeting with Obama administration officials, apparently as part of LightSquared's desire to fast track FCC approval of a change beneficial to the company."
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LightSquared CEO Resigns Amid Appearance of Bribery

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  • Important to note (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:32PM (#39198387) Homepage Journal

    He attempt to do what many /.ers say happen all the time, and got busted.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:39PM (#39198483) Homepage

      He attempt to do what many /.ers say happen all the time, and got busted.

      Oh, that's just because he tried to cheap it out. 28K for a Senate Seat, 50K for Obama.

      When you're in the big leagues, you've got to drop the big bucks. Remember this kids, you get what you pay for!

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:42PM (#39198535) Homepage

        Actually it was only 8K for the Senate seat. The Dems returned $20,000.

        Must have been running a special that week.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        No true Scotsman fallacy.

        Why let evidences and data have an actual impact on any conclusion you come to, right?

      • When in the big leagues you've got to bribe both political parties just to start.

        Then buy lots of inexplicable advertising time on the news networks, sponsor a PBS show or two.

        Keep it up for a decade or two. Always remember, it's soft power, it disappears in daylight. So use a light hand.

        Light Squared are children grabbing at candy. No surprise they got caught.

      • Re:Important to note (Score:5, Interesting)

        by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:34PM (#39200155)

        I don't buy the "Bribery" angle that's just more anti-obama birther nonsense.

        It's true that the Democratic party received about $20k from Falcone in 2010. But the Republican Party received nearly $50k in 2008.

        If you go through his political contributions he tended to shotgun across party lines. And none of the money in 08 was for Obama. It was almost exclusively for Senatorial candidates and Giuliani and Chris Dodd.
        http://www.campaignmoney.com/political/contributions/philip-falcone.asp?cycle=08 [campaignmoney.com]

        And yes I do imagine there was some Lightsquared/Obama white house conversations--One of Obama's campaign promises was broadband for all. Lightsquared promised to deliver on that promise for the president. I'm unaware of another company which Lightsquared favoritism would have pushed out of business. By the very nature of their technology it seemed that there *can't* be a competitor since they themselves don't work. ;)

    • by vlm (69642)

      LS raised billions of dollars... yet just defaulted on their first payment to inmarsat last week. Those billions are gone. All of it.
      If I were that guy, I'd be getting out of my contract by any means necessary, purchasing a new identity, grabbing my family and running for the hills.
      Heck if I took company paper clips home I'd be using that as an ethics violation to get the heck out, alive.

    • by steelfood (895457) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:54PM (#39198729)

      He wasn't doing it right.

      First off, at that level, he needs to start bri *ahem* making campaign donations to everybody, not just to the President. Senators, congressmen, judges, even the ones running the party all need their cut. And he needs to be doing it over multiple election years.

      A few thousand dollars doesn't cut it anymore these days--at least not at the Federal level. To play in that game, he needs a warchest of at least half a million.

      Additionally, he needed a lobbying firm to do the dirty work on his behalf. If it was a lobbying firm who did the brib *ahem* gift-giving instead, he would be shielded from all this by plausible deniability and would have kept his job. He could've just fired the lobbying firm and re-hired them under a different company name *ahem* I mean find another one.

    • He attempt to do what many /.ers say happen all the time, and got busted.

      Actually he got busted because he was trying to bribe his way around a technological limitation that has no known solution and would completely disable the American military - and he's not being tried for treason. I'd hardly say he got busted.

  • ...but I have my doubts that a "report" by The Daily Caller had much to do with anything (regardless of its accuracy). Lightsquared's problems seem to run a little deeper than that.
  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:37PM (#39198455) Journal
    It's an election year so they're probably happy to accept any money they can get, but I wonder if anyone within the administration or the DNC itself is going to get some smackdown for this incident.
    • by willaien (2494962)

      Keep in mind that the intended effect (fast track approval) didn't happen.

      • by Baloroth (2370816)

        They did get conditional approval and lots of praise from the FCC, though. The problem was using bandwidth for terrestrial stations that close to the GPS spectrum was always a bad idea. The spectrum was always intended to be used for satellite transmissions: the FCC themselves designated it for that. For them to offer conditional approval later shows someone was pushing for Lightsquared to succeed. Not even that could get past the fact that their system interferes with most GPS systems, though, and it would

        • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @01:14PM (#39199017)

          For them to offer conditional approval later shows someone was pushing for Lightsquared to succeed.

          They appear to be crooks and what they're doing was a dumb idea from a tech standpoint ... but... from personal experience the FCC will license almost anyone to do almost anything on a conditional experimental non-interfering basis. I know this goes against /. group think about the govt, but at least WRT to temporary conditional experimental licenses the FCC has always been very libertarian, perhaps the most so of all the fedgov, maybe more than all the rest of the fedgov put together.

          The way its supposed to work, for a real world example, is 20 ham radio guys who know what they're doing, get a temporary experimental license to F around near the now unused traditional 500 KHz marine radio band, mostly trying to figure out how they can do it without interfering with any remaining primary users (if any?). Then the experiment ends and everyone goes away, more or less happy. Someday, maybe Very Soon the data those guys gathered will get the hams a 500 KHz allocation ... or maybe not. What LS did instead of basically a big lab experiment, was get their standard off the shelf FCC response of "go out there, F around, and for gods sake don't break anything and stop the moment I tell you to" permission slip that anyone else can get for the asking, and then used it to raise Billions of dollars and make campaign contributions and then started crying unfair when it turns out it didn't work out.

          Its not like the FCC was "pushing" just for LS, they pretty much rubber stamp any non-totally stupid experimental request. LS is just crying because the experiment failed and they owe Billions and though thousands in campaign contributions would fix it. Millions in bribes might have. But thousands? Not gonna work.

          • by Kythe (4779)
            Well said. It should also be remembered (or learned, for those who don't know) that FCC is considered an "independent agency", meaning that while they're technically in the executive branch, their leadership is not part of the Cabinet. They are more responsive to Congress than to the White House.
      • by msauve (701917) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @01:04PM (#39198871)
        "the intended effect (fast track approval) didn't happen."

        Actually, it did, in a way. The fast track process was started, the filing was accepted in one day (a process which normally takes months). The normally required 30 day comment period was reduced by the FCC to an effective 5 1/2 days (it was 10 days, but across a long US holiday weekend). Granted, the actual approval didn't end up happening, but not because the FCC didn't try to help them out. It was an alert CTIA [ctia.org] which filed an extension request, and alerted GPS users of the potential issues.
        • by canajin56 (660655)
          In January 2011 they were given conditional approval, that if by June 2011, with monthly progress reports, they could form a working group with the GPS providers, and demonstrate that both parties are happy and there is no interference, then they could go ahead (after the MANDATORY 30 day comment period). LightSquared got an extension so their final report was filed June 30th, and the MANDATORY 30 day comment period was July 1-30th. What dates are you talking about? Because it seems to me that there was
          • by msauve (701917)
            Really? You can't click the obviously labeled "fast track FCC approval [orbitrax.com]" link in the summary? Let me help:

            Lightsquared filed the Application on Thursday, November, 18th [2010], and by the end of business on Friday November 19th, the FCC had "Accepted the Filing and issued a Public Notice". The Lightsquared request was Accepted for filing in ONE BUSINESS DAY, while it took the same FCC International Bureau 3 MONTHS to "accept" the Globalstar application for filing...The FCC has waived their "regulatory magic-

    • by alen (225700)

      the 2012 election is going to cost north of $500 million per campaign. figure $20,000 - $50,000 max per donor when you figure the dinners and the individual contribution.

      one less $50,000 check from a pissed off hedge fund manager in a sea of donations isn't going to swing it to the republicans. there are hundreds of funds headquartered in DNC heavy areas that will still go for obama

    • by sjames (1099)

      What implications? The implication that they don't do special favors in exchange for the donations? Kinda like that F.O.P. sticker on your bumper isn't actually a get out of jail free card?

  • by jone_stone (124040) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:39PM (#39198493) Homepage

    There's absolutely nothing new about this situation. It's a fact of modern political life that if you want face time with a politician you have to donate to their campaign. Planet Money did an interesting podcast about the concept of political fundraisers in Washington that really sheds light on the problem: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/11/01/141913370/the-tuesday-podcast-inside-washingtons-money-machine [npr.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by geekoid (135745)

      AS someone who has met with politician, and not made any kind of donation, I call you a liar.

  • by geminidomino (614729) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:45PM (#39198571) Journal

    Seriously? Chris Dodd basically dick-smacked the entire concept of "bribing government is bad" into non-existence, but they force this guy out?

    I guess that "contribution" wasn't big enough.

    • The entire concept of what consitutes bribery is very hypocritical. It seems to be who you're connections are and how much money you have. It was the famous Jewish mobster Meyer Lansky that once said, "Money talks and bullshit walks!"
  • by BMOC (2478408) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:54PM (#39198725)
    This is enough to get someone to resign on the appearance of Bribery but Chris Dodd's blatant admission of buying representation is not? double standard continues for elected officials.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      If Chris Dodd had been involved in bribery, you might have had a point, but he wasn't. I'm sure Fox told you he was, and I should expect you to thin for yourself. Still, I have hope you people can rub your two remaining brain cells together.

      He was a victim of the same machine that tried to scandalize Clinton. Make a huge issue and of normal stuff, but when nothing comes out just stop reporting, let the rumor mill work around, and don't mention you were wrong in the first place. If you are lucky, you might f

      • by BMOC (2478408)
        So, his open complaint pasted all over the internet about not getting the correct result on PIPA/SOPA doesn't strike you as an admission of bribery of elected officials? Mind you, this open admission by Dodd caused thousands of people to directly petition Obama to open an investigation into him. I sincerely doubt most of those people were "Fox News watchers."
  • Its corrupt in the USA, but not that corrupt.
  • What's the story here? It is completely legal in this great country of ours for companies to bribe, err I mean donate money to political figures. Remember, corporations are "people" and money is "free speech." And it's also business as usual for cronies, err I mean politicians, to give preferential treatment to their buddies.

    So what's different about this deal that warranted an article describing something that happens every day here?
  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @01:04PM (#39198863)
    He didn't get fired for trying to bribe the administration. He got fired for not being successful at it.
  • Maybe I'm a bit biased against all politicians, but the way I see it, if allegations are true, he's now passed all requirements to become a politician in any country.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @01:24PM (#39199151)

    The way to have less corruption is for government to have less power over people. Why bribe someone who can't help (or hurt) you? Smaller government is the answer.

    • Because very simply, governments will always have *some* power and with *some* power there's profit to be made in legalized bribery (campaign contributions). The only way for your suggestion to work is to go the "On the duty of civil disobedience" route which means NO government, which will never work unfortunately.

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        In his defense, he did say "less corruption", not "no corruption". Corruption is not a good thing, but there's a difference between someone paying off a cop to get out of a speeding ticket and someone paying the government to give them thousands or millions in taxpayer money. You'll probably never get rid of the more venial sort of corruption, except possibly through education and strict control, but you can reduce the scope of what government corruption makes possible. After all, one of the reasons that

    • And yet you're bringing this up on a story about a case where the bribe didn't work... Smaller government is not the answer.

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