Friday, October 07, 2011

Sen. Grassley Asks Hedge Fund for Records of Communications with FCC

Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has asked a hedge fund invested in a wireless communications company for all communications between the fund and the FCC, White House, or Department of Commerce. In a letter to the hedge fund, the Judiciary Committee’s Ranking Member also requested records of all communications between firms or individuals retained by the fund to represent the fund before Federal agencies. The Senator asked the hedge fund to respond by October 19, 2011.

When responding to this request, the Senator asked the hedge fund to prioritize responses in the following two areas: 1) Communications and any records relating to communications regarding my document requests to the FCC; and 2) Communications and any records relating to communications regarding regulatory actions by the FCC.

The Senator noted that the company, which is majority owned by the hedge fund, took out an advertisement in most major newspapers styled as an open letter stating that, “there are still vast areas of the country without access to broadband.” According to Sen. Grassley, this creates the impression that the company plans to wire those areas for broadband. The company played on this theme before, he noted, when it created the “Empower Rural America Initiative” whose mission, in part, was to “create a substantial new resource for rural America in the form of a wireless network that reaches areas that still don’t have broadband access.” The FCC, however, has not required the company to wire a single rural American household and has only required it to meet a set of benchmarked targets culminating in a requirement that the company wire 260 million Americans by 2015.