Nixon Peabody last week notified Congress it is lobbying on behalf of Hogan Lovells for a New York-based hedge fund that has come under fire in Washington over a telecommunications company it supports.
Lobbyists from Nixon Peabody are advocating on Federal Communications Commission and U.S. broadband policy issues for billionaire Philip Falcone's Harbinger Capital Partners LLC, backer of LightSquared Inc., according to congressional records. LightSquared is trying to launch a national open wireless broadband network that received tentative approval from the FCC last year, despite concerns about disruption it causes.
The Defense and Transportation departments in December said testing on LightSquared signals showed “harmful interference” with several Global Positioning System devices and disrupted a flight safety system intended to alert pilots to changing terrain. The company has disputed the findings.
Congressional Republicans also have expressed concerns about interference, as well as LightSquared’s advocacy efforts in Washington.
House Science Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-Texas) and six of his Republican colleagues on the panel in September sent Barack Obama administration officials a letter that raised questions about the timing of donations by LightSquared officials to the Democratic Party and White House meeting requests from the company. Then last week, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent Falcone a letter that said an adviser to the billionaire offered the senator an “unseemly invitation to discuss a quid pro quo” for LightSquared. Grassley is investigating the FCC’s tentative approval of the LightSquared network.
Former Rep. Thomas Reynolds (R-N.Y.), a Nixon Peabody senior strategic policy adviser, as well as strategic policy adviser Sally Vastola and counsel Douglas Dziak, are handling the account for the firm. The lobbyists didn’t respond to requests for comment. Harbinger spokesmen couldn’t be reached for an immediate comment.
LightSquared spent $2.8 million on federal lobbying last year, according to congressional records. Lobbyists from 15 firms were registered to lobby for the company in 2011. They include Ballard Spahr; Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck; Dickstein Shapiro; Patton Boggs; K&L Gates; Kirkland & Ellis; and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.