LightSquared CEO resigns amid revelations of company’s proximity to Obama White House
LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday amid revelations of his company’s political proximity — and his own closeness — to the White House and Obama administration officials.
The Daily Caller first reported one week ago on emails and documents that indicate political ties and numerous meetings between LightSquared and Obama administration officials as the company was undergoing regulatory review.
Ahuja’s resignation comes after Obama’s FCC suspended conditional approval of a waiver LightSquared needed to complete its high-speed broadband network. Until two weeks ago, the company’s final approval appeared imminent.
Ahuja, who had never donated to Democrats before and has not since, gave the maximum allowable $30,400 contribution to the Democratic National Committee on the same day his lawyers were trying to arrange a meeting for him at the White House with top Obama technology adviser Aneesh Chopra and other officials.
In emails between Ahuja’s lawyers and White House officials Ahuja wanted to meet with, his lawyers pointed out that he would attend an Obama fundraiser on or about the same day he wanted the meeting.
In a statement accompanying the company’s announcement of Ahuja’s resignation, he made no mention of those revelations.
“During my tenure at LightSquared, we all worked tirelessly to create the nation’s first open wireless broadband network and provide consumers with a new wireless broadband experience,” Ahuja said. “That work continues and I wish the company and its fine management team well as they work to achieve this important goal.”
LightSquared spokesman Terry Neal did not immediately respond to TheDC’s request for comment on the possible connections between Ahuja’s resignation and revelations published exclusively by TheDC.
According to the release, Ahuja will remain LightSquared’s chairman.
Philip Falcone, the CEO of Harbinger Capital Partners — which created LightSquared from its predecessor, SkyTerra — was appointed to the LightSquared board on Tuesday as well. The Obama administration FCC approved Harbinger’s purchase of SkyTerra after what appeared to be a series of favorable regulatory decisions amid White House visits.
In the press release, Falcone said he remains confident in LightSquared’s future despite these new revelations and the company’s reported challenges related to GPS interference issues.
“LightSquared’s objective, through its wholesale business model, is to provide increased competition and lower prices in the telecommunications industry, and to bring broadband cellular phone service to rural areas that currently don’t have such service and that has not and will not change,” Falcone said. “We are, furthermore, committed to working with the appropriate entities to find a solution to the recent regulatory issues. We, of course, agree that it is critical to ensure that national security, aviation and the GPS communities are protected.”